Hip Fracture

Joint Replacement Surgery for Arthritis of the Hip

What is a hip fracture?

A hip fracture is a break in the bone of the upper thigh bone (femur) close to where it articulates with the pelvis.  Fractures can be open, where the bone is protruding through the skin, or closed, where the bone is not visible through the skin.  A simple fracture is broken in one place into two pieces.  They can be displaced or non-displaced.  A comminuted fracture has multiple fractures and more than two bone fragments.  Pathological fractures are a result of weakened bone secondary to some underlying disease or cancer.  Stress fractures are a result of repetitive force and are not always visible on x-ray.

How does it occur?

Fractures usually occur with an injury involving a lot of force.  This can occur with a fall in elderly patients or with sports activities in the young.  Pathological fractures occur due to weakening of the bone from osteoporosis or cancer that has spread to the bone.  These can occur with even normal activity.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of a fractured hip include sudden severe pain, bruising, inability to walk on that leg, and deformity of your hip/leg after the injury.  If you have a loss of sensation, numbness, or tingling in your lower leg you should go to the emergency room immediately.  These fractures dominantly have to be fixed with an operation.

How is it diagnosed?

Hip fractures are diagnosed with patient history, physical exam, and x-ray.  A CT may be ordered for operative planning in severe cases with comminution.

How is it treated?

Most hip fractures will require surgery to internally reduce and fix the bones back in place.  This can be done with screws, plates, and rods.  In some cases, a partial or total hip replacement may be required.

What is the recovery time?

Recovery time varies from patient to patient.  You may need to use crutches or a walker for a month or two depending on your condition prior to surgery.  Typically, patients are gotten out of bed and working with physical therapy within hours of surgery and progressively advance weightbearing from there.  Some cases resume light activity in as soon as a month, with more strenuous activity in a few months to a year.  Recovery time does vary significantly based on patient condition prior to the injury and the extent of the injury.

In the elderly, these are high risk injuries in that fixation has to be functional and patients run a high risk of morbidity if immediate return to activities with consistent progression to normal does not occur.

We are here to help. If you believe you are suffering from one of these conditions, we would love to deliver a diagnosis, get you treated and get you moving again.

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