Hip Fractures

 Hip Fracture Fact Sheet

What is a hip fracture (broken hip)?

The hip bone is not just one bone. It is actually several bones that come together like a puzzle and make up what is called the “hip bone”. Hip fractures occur at the top of the thigh bone commonly known as the femur.

Why does a hip fracture or break occur?

Most hip fractures occur in older men and women. The risk for hip fracture dramatically increases with advanced age. Hip fractures are most commonly a consequence of osteoporosis, a silent disease that causes bones to become thin, weak, and more likely to break.

How does a hip fracture or break usually happen?

Hip fractures most often occur as a result of a fall from standing height. In fact, a small percentage of hip fractures occur spontaneously, without a fall.

Is a hip fracture serious?

A hip fracture is considered to be the worst consequence of osteoporosis. It can cause severe pain in the buttock, groin or hip and almost always results in the inability to stand or walk. A hip fracture may cause temporary disability, permanent disability, or other severe complications.

Almost all people who have hip fractures require surgery to repair the broken bone. Hip fractures most often occur in late adulthood when it is common to have additional medical conditions that increase the risk for surgical complications. The complications from surgery can be serious and may include blood clots, pneumonia, infections, and bleeding. The risk of death in the year following a hip fracture is 15 to 20 percent higher compared to a group of individuals of the same age with no hip fracture. Death rates following hip fracture are especially high among men and African-American women.

A hip fracture can impact an individual’s life in many ways. It commonly leads to a loss of independence. Following surgery, some people require long-term skilled nursing care. In fact, approximately 25% of women require care in a skilled nursing facility for at least a year after the fracture. For individuals who are discharged from the hospital to a home setting, it is common to need help from family, friends, or healthcare professionals with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and shopping.

What can be expected during recovery from a hip fracture?

Following a hip fracture, only a small percentage of people are able to return to the same level of independence that they had before the fracture. Although there are common steps towards recovery, individuals may require different levels of care in order to reach optimal wellness. After hip fractures people often require rehabilitation by physiatrists, physical therapists, and/ or occupational therapists. Some people may need a cane, walker, or other assistive devices to help with safe movement.

It is important to know that once you have had a fracture, you are at an increased risk for future fractures. To reduce your risk of repeated fractures, it is important to make lifestyle changes in terms of nutrition and correct form of exercise. It is equally important to speak to your healthcare provider about possibility of taking an appropriate FDA- approved osteoporosis medication that will be effective for reducing your risk for fractures in future.

Healthy bones are a lifelong commitment. It is never too early or too late to take the steps to promote stronger bones and reduce bone loss.  At any age, you can reduce your risk of breaking a bone by following strategies for safe movement and fall prevention.