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Hip Fractures

A slip and fall accident leading to a fracture in one of the hips is a dangerous health risks facing the elderly community. Often requiring surgery or a total replacement, the rehabilitation from such an injury is long and not always successful. A quick education on the causes, treatments, and prevention of these fractures is provided below.

About: The hip joint is where the femur connects to the pelvis. The place where the bones connect is called the acetabulum. It’s a ball and socket joint. The hips themselves are comprised of three different bones – the ilium, ischium, and pubis – which are fused together in adults. However, the term “hip fracture” actually refers to a break in the end of the femur that connects to the pelvis.

Causes: When the head of the femur breaks in a normal person, it is almost always due to a high impact trauma, like a car accident. However, in the vast majority of cases, the break happens in someone experiencing bone fragility. Fragile bones could be caused by a number of conditions or diseases, such as cancer, osteoporosis, and, rarely, infection. Since older adults are prone to osteoporosis causing weak bones, they are most at risk, especially due to an elevated chance of falls.

Treatments: After an examination and x-ray to determine which of the several different types of breaks has occurred, most fractures of the hip will be treated with surgery. The surgery generally will include an orthosis. Some solutions include the placement of metal screws and plates, while others call for a total replacement. The surgery is extremely taxing, especially on elderly patients. Extreme pain and aching are common, and movement is limited by both. Nonsurgical options are extremely few.

Prevention: To prevent a fracture of the top of the femur, it’s extremely important for the elderly to avoid slips and falls. Wear stable shoes and make sure that any dangers like loose rugs or leaks are removed or repaired to keep a safe home. A diet rich in calcium along with vitamins will help prevent weak bones, though it’s most important to be vigilant to avoid slips. After a break, prevent re-injury by following up with all prescribed physical therapy and engage in gentle weight bearing exercises regularly.

Fractures to the hips are all too common in the older population, and unfortunately, this type of injury often ends up being fatal. That’s why education about the risks and careful prevention are the most important factor – chances of rehabilitation are best when the injury never occurs in the first place.