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Hip fracture
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Hip fracture

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SENIORS' HEALTH

Bones/Joints/Muscles

A hip fracture is a serious injury, particularly if you're older, and complications can be life-threatening. Fortunately, surgery to repair a hip fracture is usually very effective, although recovery often requires time and patience. Most people, even those older than age 80, make a good recovery from a hip fracture. Generally, the better your health and mobility, the better your chances for a complete recovery are. You can break your hip at any age, but 90 percent of hospitalizations for hip fractures are for people older than age 65. As you age, your bones become less dense as they slowly lose minerals. Gradual loss of density weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to a fracture.

 

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Screening and diagnosis

Often your doctor can determine that you have a hip fracture based on your symptoms and by observing the abnormal position of your hip and leg. An X-ray will confirm that you have a fracture and show exactly what part of your hip is fractured.

Ninety percent of fractures occur in one of two locations along your femur, the long bone that extends from your pelvis to your knee:

  • The femoral neck. The femoral neck is located in the upper portion of your femur, just below its head, which is the ball part of the ball-and-socket joint.

  • The intertrochanteric region. This region is the portion of your upper femur that juts outward.

Complications

A hip fracture is a serious injury. Although the fracture itself is treatable, complications can be life-threatening. If you also have an illness that makes it unsafe to undergo surgery to repair your broken hip, your doctor may use a tension system (traction) to allow your hip to heal.

The risk of traction is that it keeps you immobile for a long period, during which time you can develop blood clots in your legs. You can also develop a blood clot after hip surgery if you don't get up and move around very much. It's possible for a blood clot to become lodged in a lung artery, blocking blood flow to lung tissue. This condition, a pulmonary embolism, can be fatal.

Other risks of traction and being immobile include:

Hip fracture > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:42 AM