A hip fracture is a break in the thigh bone. The break happens just below the hip joint.
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A hip fracture is caused by trauma to the bone, such as from a fall or a car accident.
This problem is more common in older adults. Things that may raise the risk are:
- Health problems, such as:
- A prior fracture
- Heart, hormone, and kidney disorders
- Certain medicines, such as antidepressants and proton pump inhibitors
- Lack of activity
- Alcohol use disorder
- Poor nutrition
A hip fracture may cause:
- Groin and thigh pain
- A leg that looks shorter or turns outward
- Not being able to put weight on the hip
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. The hip and leg will be examined. This may be enough to suspect a hip fracture. Images will show where the fracture is and how severe it is. Images may be taken with:
Hip bones support bodyweight and are surrounded by powerful muscles. Surgery is often needed to help hip fractures heal well. It will often be done within 1 to 2 days of the injury. There are different types of surgery. Choice will be based on age, overall health, and how badly the bone is damaged. Surgery may include:
- Repair—Plates and screws attached to the bone to support them while they heal
- Replacement—Damaged bone is removed and replaced with an artificial joint
Movement is encouraged soon after surgery. Walkers, crutches, or canes will be needed at first. Physical therapy will also help to regain movement and strength.
Surgery may not be possible for those with major health issues. The bone will need to heal on its own. This method will take longer and have greater movement limits. The leg may need to be in traction in first few weeks. A gentle pressure will help to keep the bone in the right place so it can heal as it should. The bone will be checked often as it heals.
Most fractures are due to accidents. Healthy bones and muscles may help prevent severe injury. A balanced diet and regular exercise can keep bones strong.
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Hip fracture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hip-fracture. Updated August 26, 2020. Accessed July 28, 2020.
Hip fracture prevention. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00309. Updated January 2013. Accessed July 28, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated: 3/10/2021