A hip fracture is a break in the upper quarter 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 or on the level of the fracture.
The hip joint is a ball-in-socket joint. The pelvis bone has a cup-shaped socket that holds the top of the thigh bone in place and allows it to rotate during movement. The primary function of the hip joint is to support the weight of the head, trunk, and arms while still or moving. The hip joint provides a base of support that holds body upright when with sitting or standing.
A hip fracture is caused by a trauma. Falls are the most common cause of hip fractures in older adults, and the risk increases with age. Automobile crashes, a source of high force trauma, can cause hip fractures at any age. Women experience more hip fractures than men. Women may be more susceptible because of differences in their skeletal structure and bone composition. Additionally, women may have higher rates of bone density loss from Osteoporosis, a bone weakening disease.
Signs and symptoms of a hip fracture may include the inability to move immediately after a fall, severe pain in the hip or groin, the inability to put weight on the leg on the side of the injured hip, stiffness, bruising and swelling in and around the hip area, a shorter leg on the side of the injured hip, or the turning outward of the leg on the side of the injured hip.
Often your physician can determine that you have a hip fracture based on your symptoms and by observing the abnormal position of your hip and leg. An X-ray usually will confirm that you have a fracture and show exactly where the fracture is on the bone.
Treatment for a hip fracture often involves surgery and the need for rehabilitation. The type of surgery you have generally depends on the location of the fracture in the bone. Once you have had surgery, your physician will recommend physical therapy as soon as possible. Most people will be out of bed and moving on the first day after surgery. Physical therapy will focus on range of motion and strengthening exercises. Your in-home and outpatient physical therapist will work with you to get you back up and walking and help you to regain the mobility you had before your fracture.