Hip Fracture

What is a Hip Fracture


A hip fracture is a break to the part of the femur that makes up the hip joint.  It occurs in one of three places (see image above) : -

  • The sub-trochanteric region
  • The inter-trochanteric area
  • The femoral neck

Fractures may be

  • displaced - where the bones have moved out of their normal position
  • non-displaced - where the bones have remained in position
  • impacted - where the femoral head is pushed into the femoral neck.

Fractured hips are very serious and have a mortality rate one year after fracture of 30%.

The X-ray below shows a displaced, sub-capital fracutre.

displace, sub-capital fracture

Who Is Affected?

Although such fractures can affect people of all ages the majority are found in elderly people following a fall.

80% of people who sustain a hip fracture are women and the average age of fracture is 80 years.

How Many People Are Affected?

In the UK about 75,000 fractured hips are treat each year but, with an aging population this figure is expected to double by 2050.

Hip Fracture

The major symptom is severe pain in the hip area and possibly the upper leg. The patient will not being able to weight bear or walk or stand. The leg may be turned outwards and appear shorter than the healthy one.

If you think that you may have fractured your hip then is important to get to hospital as soon as possible. Call 999. Do NOT wait.

Hip Fracture

An X-ray will be taken to determine if the hip is broken or not. However not all hip fractures show up on X-rays and some will only show up many hours after the accident has happened. A radioisotope bone scan or an MRI may be able to detect the problem straight away.

X-rays may be repeated after 24 hours.

Hip Fracture

A hip fracture is a very serious life threatening condition with a high mortality rate.

Most people who have fractured their hip will require surgery.

Hip with screws

Inter-trochanteric and sub-throchanteric fractures are normally fixed with rods, plates and screws (see above).

Fractures of the femoral neck are more complex.

Firstly because the blood supply to the region is limited and any disruption may lead to avascular necrosis where the lack of blood leads to the death of the bone and secondly because there is less cancellous bone present which means that the bone is much less likely to be able to mend.

The surgeon will need to decide whether to attempt to mend the fracture or to replace the hip. Mending the fracture will involve putting the pieces of bone back together and holding them in place with screws. If this works then you have achieved the best outcome. However the procedure will require a long period on crutches and there is still a chance that avascular necrosis will develop or that the bone will simply not heal. For these reasons a hip replacement may be the treatment of choice especially if there are signs of arthritis already present.

Related Links: 

Avascular Necrosis 
Walking Aids 
Hip Replacement Products

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