More than 300,000 people every year in the U.S. suffer a hip fracture, and most of them involve individuals 60 years or older who are injured in household or community falls, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
As the aging population grows, so are these incidents which can lead to fractures requiring prompt surgical treatment.
“Hip fractures are extremely common, especially in the geriatric population,” explains Alexander D. Gaukhman, M.D. , with Baptist Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine , a part of Baptist Health South Florida.. “It usually entails a low velocity mechanism, usually a fall from standing or a fall from a chair, and it leads to a break in the bone.”
Most hip fractures require surgery, usually within one to two days of injury. Rarely, hip fractures may be treated without surgery, typically in patients who may be too sick or in a small group of patients that have healing, non-displaced fractures that were diagnosed weeks after injury.
Nonetheless, surgery is required to relieve acute pain secondary to the fracture and to allow the patient begin mobilization. Having surgery as soon as possible can lessen the risk of complications.
“Hip fractures are usually treated with surgery,” explains Dr. Gaukhman. “We typically use plates and screws to stabilize the fracture and allow for it to heal in an anatomic position. In some cases, we may do a hip replacement, either a total where the hip socket is reconstructed or a partial hip replacement in which only the femur is reconstructed. The type of surgery depends on the nature of the hip fracture.”
Types of Hip Fractures
There are typically three different types of hip fractures, he adds. Femoral neck fractures occur closest to the hip joint. Intertrochanteric and sub-trochancteric fractures are slightly further down, away from the joint. The location of the fracture about the femur dictates the treatment that is recommended.
“Hip fractures can lead to a significant deterioration in the quality of life in patients,” said Dr. Gaukhman. “It’s usually related to osteoporosis or thinning of the bone, a condition where the bones losses bone mineral density.
Role of Rehabilitation
The role of rehabilitation after hip surgery is crucial. Immediately after surgery, the patient begins working with physical and occupational therapy. Although progress is often time slow and limited secondary to pain, working with therapy is an important step in the rehabilitation process after a hip fracture. Physical therapy will continue at home or on admission to a rehabilitation facility where patients will work on regaining their strength and balance” said Dr. Gaukhman. “One of the main issues after a hip fracture is that patients may lose independence and mobility.” Therefore, prevention of a hip fracture is of vital importance.
The Vital Importance of Prevention
One of the biggest factors in preventing hip fractures is working with your primary care physician or endocrinologist “in order to optimize bone health,” says Dr. Gaukhman.
“A lot of patients, even in the South, may still be Vitamin D deficient which is an easily modifiable risk factor. Smoking prevention, reducing alcohol intake, increasing activity, engaging in fall prevention programs and leading a healthy, active life style are all steps patients can take in order to decrease their risk of having a hip fracture.
Key Points About Hip Fractures
- Most hip fractures happen to people older than 60.
- A fall is the most common reason for a hip fracture among elderly adults.
- Hip fracture is more common among women.
- Osteoporosis and advancing age are the major risk factors.
- A fracture of the hip is generally treated with surgery.
- Serious complications can result from a hip fracture.
- Regular weight-bearing exercise helps to prevent a hip fracture.