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Hip Fractures

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A hip fracture is ideally a breakage in the upper part of the femur i.e. the thigh bone. Old people above the age of 65 are more prone to this kind of injury and recovery takes a long a time. Different types of hip fractures include:

Intracapsular Fracture: Fractures occur inside the capsule which is the lubricating fluid around the hip joint. It’s also known as femoral neck fracture

Intertrochanteric Fracture: The trochanter is the point of attachment of all the important muscles of the hip. Fracture occurs between the top of the femur and the trochanter.

Subtrochanteric Fracture: This fracture occurs below the lesser trochanter

Causes of Hip Fractures

The hip bone is broken when you fall hard or face an accident. This can happen to anyone; nonetheless old people should be very cautious. However there are several other facts that make one vulnerable to hip fracture.

Especially common in women, osteoporosis makes the hip bone more prone to breaking. Minor twisting or even while standing can incur a hip fracture in people having terribly weak bones

Other medical conditions that can weaken bone and increase chances of fracture are cancer, stress, arthritis and lack of calcium, vitamin D and other vital components of nutrition.

Symptoms of Hip Fractures

  • Just like any other fracture, the pain is excruciating and you cannot move after the accident or fall.
  • Unbearable pain is experienced in the hip and groin area
  • You cannot bear weight in your leg or move your leg outward
  • Severe stiffness in the hip

Diagnosis and tests of hip fracture

Your doctor can easily diagnose your condition and tell you that you have a hip fracture. However, an X-ray is a must in this case as it helps your doctor to find out the nature and the location of the fracture.

There are circumstances where you experience pain in the hip but the abnormality doesn’t show up in the x ray report, then you need additional tests like bone scan, CT scan and MRI are suggested to know the underlying cause.

Treatment of Hip Fractures

Several mechanisms are used by doctor to repair the broken hip bone and they are performed under anaesthesia. The nature of surgery that you need to undergo will depend on the type of fracture, your age and other medical aspects associated with you.

Non-displaced intracapsular fractures need the bones to be re-joined with or without use of external joining devices like nails, rods, screws, plates, etc. If the hip bone has been displaced, then it needs to be re-aligned first followed by internal fixation with hardware. The hardware devices hold the bones together and heal the fracture in due course of time.

Other types of surgeries include partial hip replacement and total hip replacement. In both the treatments, prosthesis are used to replace the partially damaged part of femur or completely replacing the uppermost part of the femur under various circumstances like cut of blood supply to the hip joint, osteoporosis or massive damage to joint.

If the patient is internally weak, fragile and incapable of undergoing surgery, then he/she will be retained in the hospital for long term to allow the fracture to heal naturally along with some treatments.

Bi-phosphates, calcium, vitamin and NSAIDs are additionally prescribed by doctor to combat pain and accelerate the healing process.

What happens after the surgery?

The patient is shifted to rehabilitation unit wherein nurses and physiotherapist will take care. Oxygen therapy and intravenous drip will be given. The physiotherapist may help the patient with some motion exercises for mobility of the hip and this would be extended to home care. Doctor will let know when the patient is fit to be discharged.

Extended home care

You will need a caretaker for helping you in your daily activities like bathing, using toilet and self grooming activities. Moving the body in some specific positions is needed to avoid formation of bed sores. Hygiene is important to prevent opportune infections like UTIs.

How long it takes to recover?

The time taken to recover is absolutely dependent on your age, the complexity of the surgery, you health in general and most importantly your body’s response. Complete healing like repair of surgical wounds, total internal healing and getting back to normal walking takes not less than 6 months.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 11, 2015