Hip Fracture

The hip joint is a "ball and socket" joint. The "ball" is the head of the femur, or thigh bone, and the "socket" is the cup shaped acetabulum. The joint surface is covered by a smooth articular surface that allows pain free movement in the joint.

A hip fracture is a break that occurs in the upper part of the femur (thigh bone). The thigh bone has two bony processes on the upper part - the greater and lesser trochanters. The lesser trochanter projects from the base of the femoral neck on the back of the thigh bone. Hip fractures can occur either due to a break in the femoral neck, in the area between the greater and lesser trochanters, or below the lesser trochanter.

Hip fractures are most frequently caused after minor trauma in elderly patients with weak bonesor by a high-energy trauma in young people. Long term use of certain medicines, such as bisphosphonates to treat osteoporosis (a disease causing weak bones) and other bone diseases, also increases the risk of hip fractures.

Signs and Symptoms of a Hip Fracture:

  • Pain in the groin or outer part of the upper thigh
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Discomfort while rotating the hip
  • Shortening of the injured leg
  • Outward or inward turning of the foot and knee of the injured leg

Your doctor may order an X-ray to diagnose your hip fracture. Other imaging tests, such as a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be performed to detect the fracture.

Depending on the area of the upper femur involved, hip fractures are classified as

  • Intracapsular Fracture
  • Intertrochanteric Fracture
  • Subtrochanteric Fracture

Depending on the type of hip fracture, the broken bone may be corrected and aligned with either non-operativeor operative methods:

Traction may be an option to treat your condition if you are not fit for surgery. Skeletal traction may be applied under local anesthesia, where screws, pins and wires inserted into the femur, and a pulley system is set up at the end of the bed to bear heavy weights. These heavy weights help in correcting the misaligned bones until the injury heals.

Hip fractures can be surgically treated with external fixation, intramedullary fixation, or by using plates and screws.