Hip fractures are cracks or breaks in the top of the thigh bone (femur) close to the hip joint. Doctors sometimes refer to hip fractures as proximal femoral fractures. Fractures can also occur around a hip joint that has been replaced and these are called periprosthetic fractures.
Symptoms of a hip fracture
Symptoms of a hip fracture include:
- Not being able to lift, move or rotate (turn) your leg
- Being unable to stand or put weight on your leg, although in some cases this is possible
- A shorter leg, or your leg turning outwards more on the injured side
What causes hip fractures?
Hip fractures are often the result of a fall. Falls are common in older people due to other health problems, such as reduced vision and mobility and balance problems. A fall can cause a hip fracture if a person has osteoporosis (weak and fragile bones). Following a hip fracture there is a recognised increased risk of mortality. This is most commonly due to the presence of underlying medical conditions rather than the fracture itself.
Hip fractures can also occur in younger adults who have underlying medical conditions or due to substantial trauma.
Treating a hip fracture
Surgery is usually the only treatment option for hip fractures. Surgery often involves either replacement of the broken bone or fixation using screws, plates or rods.
The type of surgery you have will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Type of fracture (which part of the femur is broken)
- Current medical health
- Your level of mobility before the fracture
- The condition of the bone and joint – for example, whether you have arthritis
Recovering from hip surgery
The aim after surgery is to speed up recovery to help regain your mobility.
The day after surgery, you should have a physiotherapy assessment and be given a rehabilitation programme that includes realistic goals for you to achieve during your recovery. The aim is to help you regain your mobility and independence so that you can return home as soon as possible. How long you'll need to stay in hospital will depend on your condition and mobility. Following surgery it may be possible for you to be discharged in three to five days.
Evidence suggests that prompt surgery plus a tailored rehabilitation programme that starts as soon as possible after surgery can significantly improve a person's life, reduce the length of their hospital stay and help them recover their mobility faster.