A hip fracture is a break in the upper portion of the thighbone (femur) and can involve injury to one of the four areas of the upper femur: femoral neck, intertrochanteric area, subtrochanteric area and femoral head.
Most hip fractures are a result of falls in elderly patients who have weakened bones due to osteoporosis and sometimes, even a simple twisting or tripping injury may lead to a fracture. In some cases, the bone may be so weak that the fracture occurs spontaneously while walking or standing and this typically occurs in the femoral neck, or intertrochanteric area.
However, hip fractures can also occur in younger people, as a result of high energy injury, such as falling from height or a motor vehicle accident. Stress fractures from repeated impact may also occur and are often seen in long-distance runners, or poorly conditioned individuals embarking on high intensity activity.
Fractures of the femoral head are rare and are usually due to a high-impact injury or as part of a hip dislocation.
A hip fracture is painful, and it is usually localised to the groin and the upper part of the thigh. You will not be able to stand, bear weight, or move the upper part of your leg or knee. It may be possible to bear part of your weight on the leg with some, undisplaced fractures, but the pain will be severe, and should be avoided to prevent worsening the condition.
A hip dislocation is a medical emergency that requires immediate help. The hip will be in an awkward, shortened position. Your orthopaedic specialist will check the sensation, movement, and circulation in your lower leg and make sure that you do not have injuries to other parts of your body.
Most hip fractures require early surgical treatment to allow early mobility, so as to reduce the risk of complications of lying in bed, and to increase the chances of preserving the viability of the femoral head.
The exact procedure is dependent on the type and location of the fracture, as well as the age and condition of the patient. Options include surgical fixation of the fracture either with a nail of plate and screws, or partial or total hip replacement. If treated in time, most patients can continue to have a good quality of life and walk independently after a hip fracture.
Every case is different; hence it is best to consult an orthopaedic specialist for an accurate diagnosis so that you can obtain the best treatment option that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you are suffering from a hip fracture and let Dr Poh and his team choose the best treatment for you so that you can enjoy a better quality of life.
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
1) How is the severity of a Hip Fracture identified?
The extent of a Hip Fracture can be determined through imaging studies. X-rays can help to diagnose a Hip Fracture and find the location and severity of the break. MRI and CT scans are more sensitive than X-rays and may be used to detect smaller fractures not caught by X-rays.
2) How long is recovery time after a Hip Fracture?
Hip Fractures are serious injuries that may take a few months to heal. The factors that decide recovery time include age, general health, type and severity of fracture, success of surgical intervention, and rehabilitation progress.
During recovery, the patient may need to undergo physical therapy, use assistive devices such as crutches or a walker, and make lifestyle adjustments to avoid re-injury and stick to the projected recovery timeline.
3) What are the complications from Hip Fractures?
Hip Fractures can cause mobility issues for long periods of time. When this occurs, complications from the injury can include blood clots in the leg or lungs, infection, pneumonia, muscle atrophy, bedsores, nerve damage, and arthritis.