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by Elizabeth Smoots, MD
A hip fracture is a break in the thigh bone just below the hip joint. The hip joint consists of a ball at the top of the thigh bone and a rounded socket in the pelvis. Most hip fractures occur 1-2 inches below the ball portion of the hip.
A hip fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Fractures in young people with healthy bones are caused by major trauma. Fractures in older adults or people with conditions that lead to weakened bones may be caused by minor trauma.
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that increase the risk of fracture in people with healthy bones include:
Women are more likely than men to fracture their hips, especially after menopause. It is more common in older adults. Other factors that increase the risk of hip fractures include:
Factors that can weaken bone and increase the risk of fractures include:
Factors that increase the risk of falls that can lead to fractures include:
A hip fracture may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your bones. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Surgery is needed for most hip fractures to make sure the hip heals properly. Surgery will also allow you to move about as you recover. However, surgery may not be appropriate for some people with small fractures or poor overall health. These fractures will be monitored with imaging tests as they heal. Traction may also be used to hold the leg in the appropriate place while the bone heals.
The type of surgery will depend on what part of the hip bone was broken, how severe the fracture was, and the overall health of your bone. Surgical options include:
Your doctor may recommend assistive devices such as a wheelchair, cane, or walker for your recovery and rehabilitation.
A physical therapist will assess the hip fracture. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to strengthen the muscles.
Major trauma is typically caused by accidents and hard to avoid.
Talk to your doctor if you have osteoporosis or are at risk for osteoporosis. Medications, dietary changes, and weight bearing activities may help slow bone loss.
To reduce the risk of falls:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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4/24/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116789/Hip-fracture: Ward RJ, Weissman BN, et al. ACR Appropriateness Criteria for acute hip pain: suspected fracture. Available at:
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Published 2013. Accessed February 11, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardAlan Drabkin, MD
Last Updated: 4/24/2014
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