Hip Fracture: What Happens When You Have One?
Updated: Feb 15, 2022
A hip fracture is a crack in the upper quarter of the thigh bone, which is also known as the femur. It can happen for various reasons and in a variety of ways. Falls -- particularly those to the side -- are among the most common reasons. Some hip fractures are even more critical than others, but most are treated with surgery.
Who’s at a Higher Risk of a Hip Fracture?
Every year around the world more than a million people break a hip, most of them sadly are over the age of 65.
This can be seen in women more often than men. That’s because women tend to fall more, and they too are more likely to have osteoporosis, a disease that can make bones weak.
Other things that put you at a higher risk of a hip fracture include:
● Family history of osteoporosis
● Being underweight
● Drinking too much alcohol
● Not getting enough vitamin D or calcium
● Lack of exercise
Also, dancers and distance runners sometimes develop stress fractures or thin cracks in their hips. If they’re not treated, they can grow bigger over time.
Hip Fracture Symptoms
You’ll likely have a lot of pain in your groin or hip, making it difficult for you to walk. Your skin around the injury may also bruise or get red, and swell. Although a few people with hip fractures can still walk, they might just complain of indistinct pain in their hips, thighs, butt, back or groin.
If your doctor thinks you may have a broken hip, they’ll ask questions about any recent falls or injuries. They may also take X-rays or do a physical exam.
If the image in the X-ray is not clear, you may be asked to get a bone scan or an MRI. For a bone scan, the doctor first injects a small quantity of radioactive dye into a vein in your arm. The ink begins to travel through your blood and into your bones, where it can reveal fractures.
Are Hip Fractures Dangerous?
It depends. They can damage surrounding tendons, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments, and nerves. They can affect your ability to move around for long periods of time, if they’re not treated immediately. If this happens, it could also put you at risk of a number of complications, like:
● Urinary tract infection
● Blood clots in your lungs or legs
● Loss of muscle mass. This puts you at a higher risk of falls and injuries.
What’s the Treatment?
Usually, you’ll require surgery. This is mainly dependent on the type of fracture you have, your overall health, and your age. Before that, your doctor will likely recommend a number of tests, like chest X-rays, electrocardiogram (ECG), and blood & urine tests.
How Can I Prevent a Hip Fracture?
The easiest way is to make sure your bones stay healthy and strong. To that end, your doctor may recommend a few of the following:
● Vitamin D supplements
● Calcium supplements
● Giving up alcohol and tobacco
● Regular physical activity
● Drugs called bisphosphonates – these help in preventing the loss of bone mass
Your doctor may also suggest you to take drugs that help in increasing the activity of the estrogen hormone and also improve bone density. These are known as selective estrogen receptor modulators.
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