Lakewood Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

What is a hip fracture?

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), a hip fracture is a break in the upper quarter of the thigh bone (medically known as the femur). The extent of the break depends on the forces that are involved. The type of surgery used to treat a hip fracture is primarily based on the bones and soft tissues affected or on the levtrigel of the fracture.

If you're younger, a hip fracture is more likely to be associated with high-energy trauma, such as an auto accident or sports injury.

For patients, especially those with osteoporosis - low bone density - two of the most common causes are a fall or a direct blow to the side of the hip.

Why is it dangerous?

For older patients, the stress of trauma, surgery, the long recovery time, and the loss of mobility and independence can severely affect their health and their life expectancy. Hip fracture rates among the US population are the highest in the world. Every year, some 300,000 people aged 65 and older are hospitalized for a hip fracture.

What are the types of hip fractures?

Three primary types of hip fractures:
  • A femoral neck fracture, also known as an intracapsular fracture, occurs at the upper end of the femur, near the "ball" of the hip joint.
  • An intertrochanteric fracture, also known as extracapsular fracture, occurs in the area between the Greater and Lesser Trochanters - a pair of ridges at the top of the femur bone, just below the femoral neck.
  • A subtrochanteric fracture occurs just below the lesser trochanter.
50% of all hip fractures are intertrochanteric.

Causes and risk factors

Osteoporosis is the leading cause of hip fracture. Age is considered a major risk factor. Other possible risk factors for hip fracture may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Low body weight
  • Tall stature
  • Vision problems
  • Dementia
  • Medications that cause bone loss
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Institutional living, such as an assisted-care facility
  • Increased risk for falls, related to conditions such as weakness, disability, or unsteady gait

The goal: shortening recovery and minimizing risks of recurrence

If you do suffer an intertrochanteric hip fracture and you're facing surgery to repair the break, keep in mind these two important goals:

Quickest possible recovery - in order to return to your best mobility and give yourself the best chance of independence after surgery, your goal should be to choose a repair approach with a proven record of reduced postoperative pain for faster recovery.

Maximum mobility - the path back to full mobility is easier if your repaired hip is stable, helping you regain confidence in your balance and your ability to get around.