What Is A Hip Fracture?

A hip fracture is a break in the upper part of the femur (thigh) bone. The extent of the break depends on the forces that are involved. The type of surgery used to treat a hip fracture is primarily based on the bones and soft tissues affected and on the location of the fracture.

Causes

Hip fractures most commonly occur from a fall or from a direct blow to the side of the hip. Some medical conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, or stress injuries can weaken the bone and make the hip more susceptible to breaking. In severe cases, it is possible for the hip to break with the patient merely standing on the leg and twisting.

Symptoms

The patient with a hip fracture will have pain over the outer upper thigh or in the groin. There will be significant discomfort with any attempt to move the hip.

If the bone has been weakened by disease (such as a stress injury or cancer), the patient may notice aching in the groin or thigh area for a period of time before the break. If the bone is completely broken, the leg may appear to be shorter than the non-injured leg. The patient will often hold the injured leg in a still position with the foot and knee turned outward (external rotation).

Radiological Assessment

The diagnosis of a hip fracture is generally made by an X-ray of the hip and femur.

Hip fractures occur at the upper end of the thigh bone (femur).

In some cases, if the patient falls and complains of hip pain, an incomplete fracture may not be seen on a regular X-ray. In that case, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be recommended. The MRI scan is a useful diagnostic test in equivocal cases.

An MRI may identify a hip fracture otherwise missed on plain X-ray.

If the patient is unable to have an MRI scan because of an associated medical condition, computed tomography (CT) may be obtained instead. Computed tomography, however, is not as sensitive as MRI for seeing hidden hip fractures.

Types Of Fractures

In general, there are three different types of hip fractures. The type of fracture depends on what area of the upper femur is involved.

Treatment

Most surgeons agree that patients do better if they are operated on fairly quickly.

Certain fractures that have not moved (“displaced”) may not require surgery. Because there is a risk that they may move later on, they are often fixed.

Certain types of fractures may be considered stable enough to be managed with non-surgical treatment. Because there is some risk that these “stable” fractures may instead prove unstable and displace (change position), Dr Parminder J Singh will need to follow you up in his rooms with periodic X-rays of the area until the fracture has united satisfactorily.

After Surgery

Patients may be discharged from the hospital to their home or find that a stay in a rehabilitation facility is necessary to assist them in regaining their ability to walk.

REHABILITATION

The amount of weight that is allowed to be placed on the injured leg will be determined by the surgeon and is generally a function of the type of fracture and repair (fixation).

The physical therapist will work with the patient to help regain strength and the ability to walk. This process may take up to three months.

MEDICAL CARE

Most patients will be placed on medicine to thin their blood to reduce the chances of developing blood clots for up to 6 weeks.

FOLLOW UP CARE

During the appointments that take place after surgery, Dr Parminder J Singh will want to check the wound, remove sutures, follow the healing process using X-rays, and prescribe additional physical therapy, if necessary.

Following hip fracture surgery, most patients will regain the majority of their mobility and independence.

Book a Consultation

Committed to improving the quality of patient advice, treatment and care in the field of orthopaedics, book a one-on-one consultation with Dr Parminder J Singh today.

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