One of the most common injuries in the elderly is broken bones, even more so in those with thinning bones. Hip fractures are actually the most common broken bone that leads to hospitalization, and effects approximately 300,000 people every year.
Before I get started I think it is important that I clarify one thing – a “broken hip” and a “hip fracture” are the same thing.
Hip fractures in the elderly are most often caused by falling, and is usually a seemingly insignificant fall. If the patient is young (with stronger bones) causes of hip fractures are usually high-energy activities, such as a car accident. Hip fractures can also happen when bones are weakened from tumor or infection, which is called a pathologic fracture.
A broken hip in the elderly can be explained primarily by weakening of the bone as a result of osteoporosis. Elderly patients with osteoporosis are at much higher risk of developing a hip fracture than someone without osteoporosis. Other risk factors associated with hip fracture are female sex, Caucasian race, slightly built individuals, and limited physical activity.
All that being said here are the things that I think are important for everyone to know in relation to hip fractures.
Hip Fractures & Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes loss of bone mass; the composition of the bone is what it would be normally, the difference is that it is thinner than most people’s. With you have thinner, weaker bones, patients with osteoporosis are at much greater risk for developing a hip fracture from accidents such as falls.
So – I am sure you’re thinking, are all hip fractures the same? No, in fact they are not. Hip fractures are generally separated into two different types:
1. Femoral Neck Fractures: This occurs when the ball of the ball-and-socket hip joint is fractured off the top of the femur. Treatment depends on the age of the patient, as well as if the ball has moved out from its normal position.
2. Intertrochanteric Hip Fractures: An intertrochanteric hip fracture occurs just below the femoral neck. These fractures are repaired more often than femoral neck fractures, and usually require surgical treatment. The surgery involves placing a plate and screws or a rod and screws to stabilize the fractures.
Treatment of a hip fracture almost always requires surgery. In some cases patients who have severe medical problems that prevent them from having surgery are given non-operative treatment options. However, it is still true that most hip fractures are treated with surgery. The type of surgery that is preferred depends on the type of fracture.
That being said physical therapy can be very helpful when you are going through the rehabilitation stage – after surgery. If you’d like to speak with us about your options please do not hesitate to give us a call. We can be reached at 201-585-7300 or by filling out the contact form on our website.