As we get older, bones become more fragile, and we have an increased risk of falling. If you have a fall onto the hip, this can cause a fracture (break) in the bone below the head of the femur (the ball part of the hip joint). In most cases you will need to have surgery to deal with the fracture.
What is a hip fracture?
A hip fracture is a break or crack in the bones near the top of the femur, by the hip joint.
Bones are made of calcium phosphate and collagen. Bone density decreases as we get older causing. This is called osteopaenia and osteoporosis. While bones are designed to take loads, if too much force is put onto them, a fracture can occur.
If the hip fractures, it’s painful to move and to bear weight through it. In most cases, you will need to be taken to hospital for urgent treatment.
What are the symptoms of a hip fracture r?
If you have a hip fracture, you might experience:
- Pain in the hip
- Swelling in the area around your hip
- Deformation – injured leg turns outwards, or appears shorter than the other leg
- Inability to put weight on your leg
- Inability to move or turn your leg
Very occasionally, despite the fracture, you might well be able to put some weight through you leg. You might think that it’s just bruising, but very often the pain just keeps getting worse.
What causes hip fractures?
Bones break in response to sudden high loads, such as having a fall. A hip fracture can also happen after a car accident, or if the bone is weakened due to an underlying disease such as osteoporosis or even cancer.
How is a hip fracture diagnosed?
If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned and have fallen or have been involved in an accident, you should seek urgent advice from your specialist or local hospital’s Emergency Department. You will be examined, and appropriate investigations like radiographs (X-Rays) or MRI scans will be ordered.
It’s really important to have an assessment as soon as possible in order to avoid potentially life-threatening complications.
How is a hip fracture treated?
Hip fractures are almost always treated with surgery, which should ideally be done within 48 hours of the injury.
The surgery you have will depend on the type and severity of the fracture, and your medical history. Different types of surgery include:
- Internal fixation – screws, pins, rods or plates are used to stabilise the fracture while it heals
- Hemiarthroplasty – a type of hip replacement which is used to replace the femoral head
- Hip replacement – both the head and socket are replaced
Our specialist team will advise you on the best treatment for your hip fracture.