A break in the upper quarter of the thigh (femur) bone, is known as a hip fracture. As we age, our risk for hip fractures increase due to risk factors such as osteoporosis.  Most hip fractures are serious injuries that require surgery. The type of fracture will determine the type of surgery that may be necessary. Therefore, if you have fallen and believe you may be suffering from a hip fracture, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately.

hip fractures

Dr. Erica Dafford, Hip Fracture Specialist

Causes of Hip Fractures

In most cases, hip fractures are caused by a direct blow to the hip usually from a fall. Hip fractures are most common in people living with osteoporosis or weak bones, making them more prone to injury. Other medical conditions such as cancer and stress injuries can also lead to weak bones and increase the risk of hip fractures.

Symptoms of Hip Fractures

There are a number of symptoms of a hip fracture that warrant immediate medical attention. If you have suffered an injury to your hip and are experiencing any of the symptoms below, please contact a medical professional for evaluation.

  • Deformity of the leg including shortening or abnormal rotation
  • The inability to walk or put weight on the legs
  • Hip pain that radiates to the knee
  • Low back pain
  • Bruising or swelling in the hip

Types of Hip Fractures

The two types of hip fractures include intracapsular fractures and extracapsular fractures of the proximal femur. Let’s take a closer look at the details of each type.

  • Intracapsular Fracture: Intracapsular fractures arise at the level of the neck and head of the femur. They are typically within the capsule, which is the soft-tissue envelope that is filled with the fluid of the hip joint.
  • Extracapsular Fracture: These type of fractures occur between the neck of the femur and a few inches below the lesser trochanter. They include intertrochanteric and subtrochanteric femur fractures
    • Intertrochanteric Fracture: These types of fractures occur between the neck of the femur and the lesser trochanter which is the lower bony prominence.
    • Subtrochanteric Fracture: Subtrochanteric fractures arise below the lesser trochanter and an area a few inches below.

Treatment Options

Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for hip fractures. Orthopedic surgeons agree that patients typically do better if treated within 24-48 hours of a hip fracture. Rarely, nonsurgical treatment may chosen for a select few patients who cannot undergo anesthesia, are unable to walk prior to their fracture, or have a limited life expectancy and minimal pain from the fracture. If surgery is decided upon, the overall medical condition of the patient will be evaluated and optimized prior to surgery.

Surgical treatment will include one of the following options: a hip pinning procedure, a special metal plate or rod with a compression screw to repair the hip, or patients may undergo a partial hip replacement surgery.  The surgical procedure will be determined by your orthopedic surgeon based on the type of hip fracture present. The goal of surgery is to allow patients to mobilize quickly, in order to return to their pre-injury functional state.  

After a hip surgery, patients will be encouraged to get out of bed the following day with the help of a physical therapist. The length of hospital stay is usually 3-4 days and patients will likely be discharged to a short term nursing facility or rehabilitation facility. A doctor will likely prescribe pain medication and a medication to thin the blood and prevent blood clots after surgery. A physical therapist will work with the patient to help regain strength and the ability to walk.  

Contact South Shore Orthopedics

If you or a loved one has suffered from a hip fracture, it is in your best interest to contact South Shore Orthopedics today. Our team of hip and geriatric fracture experts can evaluate the condition and educate you or your loved one on viable treatment options.