Hip fractures aren’t just for the elderly. While nine out of 10 hip fractures do occur in people older than 65, hip injuries can happen to anybody – and about 340,000 hip fractures occur in the US each year.
The number-one category for hip fractures is elderly patients, because their bones aren’t as strong and they have less overall health reserves. Hip fractures are overwhelmingly more common in women than in men; nearly three-quarters of hip fractures occur in women. That’s likely related to higher incidences of osteoporosis, but that doesn’t mean men can’t have a hip fracture.
It also doesn’t mean you have to be over 65. Hip replacement surgery, often due to hip injuries or arthritis, used to be relegated to people over 60. Now young, active people in their 40s and 50s with advanced arthritis are asking to have the joint replaced so they can continue to live an active life. Most other people who suffer hip fractures are victims trauma, such as car accidents, being hit by a car or a fall.
Elderly patients, however, usually have a low-energy trauma event, even falls from a standing height. Unfortunately, a stumble can have serious repercussions, changing the quality of a patient’s life. Only about one in four fully recover, while approximately 20 percent die within a year of the fracture.
Hip fracture diagnosis
Your hip is a ball-and-socket joint that gives your leg a great deal of mobility. The end of your femur (the upper leg bone and the longest and heaviest bone in the body) fits into your pelvis, allowing your leg to swing back and forth and side to side. A hip fracture is damage to the upper portion of the femur. You’ll know you have a hip fracture because it will hurt any time you try to move your leg; your doctor can confirm if it’s fractured with X-rays.
Hip fracture treatment
Hip fractures usually require surgery, unless the patient isn’t healthy enough to recover from it. The type of surgery performed largely depends on which part of the femur is broken and what other tissues are damaged. The bone may be repaired using special nails, screws or plates. Some types of breaks don’t heal well, so partial or total hip replacement may be needed. Surgeons are often able to perform minimally invasive hip replacement surgery, making small incisions that require less cutting into muscle.
Patients can, generally speaking, put their full weight on the leg right away and can be home from the hospital in two or three days.
Hip fracture dangers and prevention
Suffering a hip fracture is especially dangerous for the elderly, since it can trigger a downward spiral of medical problems. If a patient is confined to bed the body weakens, compromising the immune system. Pneumonia and other infections can prove fatal or result in damage to the lungs and kidneys. Inactivity can cause blood clots, bedsores and further weakening of the bones, which may lead to more falls and fractures.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to prevent hip fractures, especially if you’re at high risk. Start with your bones. Get your bone density checked. Sometimes calcium and vitamin D supplements can help, and other medicines to help bone health.
Other precautions to take:
- Check your home environment for trip and fall hazards. Do you have finicky rugs that often bunch up or fold over in the corners? Do you keep mail or shoes or purses on your stairs? If so, get rid of the offending items right away.
- Regular walking and weight-bearing exercises can help strengthen bones. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen.
Both yoga and tai chi can improve balance and make you less susceptible to falls. This easy-to-follow routine can also help make you steady on your feet.
This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.