Could You Have A Hip Fracture?
When we think of hip fractures, we usually imagine extremely frail women slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk. But hip fractures can happen to almost anyone – no matter how fit you are. And you don’t necessarily have to fall.
Several months ago, talk-show host Kelly Ripa, noted for her buff body, was diagnosed with a “stress” fracture – which means it happened spontaneously (not from a fall). Ultimately, she was pretty lucky because her fracture was managed with non-surgical treatment. Her doctor told her it would heal by itself as long as she spent most of her time off her feet.
But for the 1.6 million Americans who suffer with hip fractures, most won’t be so lucky; they’ll require surgery.
Hip fractures often occur because as you age, your bones slowly lose minerals and become less dense. Gradual loss of density weakens bones and makes them more susceptible to a hip fracture. A hip fracture is a break in the upper quarter of the femur (thigh) bone. The extent of the break depends on the forces that are involved.
Make no mistake, a hip fracture is a serious injury, particularly if you're older, and complications can be life-threatening. Fortunately, surgery to repair a hip fracture is usually very effective, although recovery often requires time and patience. The type of surgery used to treat a hip fracture is usually based on the level of the fracture. In some hip fractures, the doctor completely removes the head and neck of the femur, and replaces it with a prosthetic implant.
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away: Severe pain in your hip or pelvic area; bruising and/or swelling in your hip area; inability to put weight on your hip; difficulty walking. The injured leg may look shorter than the other leg and may be turned outward.
Robin Westen is ThirdAge’s medical reporter. Check for her daily updates.
See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.