What is a broken hip?

A broken hip or hip fracture refers to a break in the upper quarter of the thigh bone. It’s a serious injury that can lead to life-threatening complications.

Older people are at higher risk to have a broken hip due to weakening of the bones as a result of aging. They are also more prone to falls as a result of problems in vision, balance, and having multiple medications.

Aside from falls, a broken hip may also occur as a result of blunt trauma to the hip, medical conditions such as osteoporosis, and obesity (excessive weight can put too much pressure on the hip bones).

Symptoms of a Broken Hip

Pain in the hip or groin area is the most common symptom of a broken hip. This makes walking very difficult.

Other than pain, there can also be changes in the skin around the affected site. There can be swelling, redness, and bruising. The affected leg may also appear shorter than the unaffected leg.

Diagnosing a Broken Hip

A broken hip is diagnosed after a physical exam and imaging tests.

The physical exam of one with a broken hip may reveal swelling, bruising, or deformity on the affected site.

In order to locate the fracture, the doctor may order imaging tests such as x-rays. If this test doesn’t show any fracture even if the patient is showing hip fracture symptoms, then other imaging tests may be ordered. This can be magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan. These tests often show a hidden fracture.

How It Is Treated

The treatment plan for a broken hip will depend on several factors including the patient’s overall health and medical condition.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Nonsurgical treatment such as the use of pain medications is recommended for those who are too ill to undergo any form of surgical intervention. This is also recommended for those who are unable to walk prior to injury and may have been confined to a bed or wheelchair.

Surgical Treatment

The type of surgery to be done depends on the location and severity of the fracture and whether the fractured or broken bones are displaced (not aligned properly).

Some of the surgical options for a broken hip include internal repair using screws, partial hip replacement, and total hip replacement.