In this Article

Symptoms

Symptoms of hip fracture include:

  • Severe hip or groin pain
  • The inability to move after a fall or accident
  • The inability to put weight on a leg
  • Difficulty walking
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • A visible deformity in the hip area
  • One leg appearing shorter than the other

When to See a Doctor

See your doctor for a diagnosis if:

  • You have had a trauma, such as an accident or a fall,
  • Are not able to put weight on one leg
  • Are experiencing pain, bruising, and swelling

Causes

Hip fractures are usually caused by a fall or a blow to the hip. They are most common in older people (those over age 65), especially those with osteoporosis (bone loss). Hip fractures are rare in younger people and are usually caused by high-impact trauma, like a car accident.

Diagnosis and Tests

Your doctor will ask about your injury and your medical history. They will then do a physical examination and ask about your pain and symptoms. One of more imaging tests will be needed to determine the location and severity of the break.

  • X-ray. X-rays use low-level radiation called electromagnetic energy to takes a picture of the bone.
  • Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan). CT combines x-rays and computer software to create a detailed image of your body, including bones, organs, and muscles.

Treatments

The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and discomfort and if possible help you get back to daily life. Treatment depends on the type of fracture and the patient's overall health.

  • Surgery is usually done very soon after a hip fracture is diagnosed often within 22 hours. Having surgery right away can help shorten a stay in the hospital and may decrease pain and complications. In some cases, surgery may be delayed for 1 to 2 days so the doctor can treat other medical problems and reduce the risk of complications.

  • Surgery may not be recommended if you:
    • Are not able to walk on your own
    • Have many health problems that may get worse because of surgery
    • Are not likely to benefit from having surgery

  • Palliative [PAL-ee-uh-tiv] care is medical care that is focused on improving the quality of life for patients and their families. It may be done with or without surgical or medical treatment. To learn more, ask your healthcare provider for a copy of Intermountain's Palliative Care Services fact sheet.
  • Hospice is a specialized program for people living with a life-limiting illness. It is provided by a team of professionals with expertise in end-of-life care. To learn more, ask your healthcare provider for a copy of Intermountain's Homecare and Hospice Services booklet.

Before you decide on treatment, you and your family should talk with the surgeon or care manager about the risks and possible complications. Discuss and answer these questions together.

I'm concerned about:

  • My medical conditions and whether or not they might get worse if I have surgery
  • Anesthesia and how it may affect my ability to think
  • The cost of surgery and my care after surgery

It is important that I:

  • Can continue to live at home
  • Am able to continue all of my favorite activities
  • Can continue to manage my basic needs by myself (fix meals, bathe, dress, get in and out of bed) when I go home
  • Extend my life
  • Don't have pain

It would be okay to:

  • Have some help managing my needs when I go home
  • Go to a care facility for a period of time while I heal
  • Move to a care facility permanently

To learn more about the different types of hip fractures and repairs, ask your healthcare provider for a copy of the Intermountain fact sheet Surgery to Repair a Hip Fracture.

Prevention

Some hip fractures can’t be prevented, since they’re due to accidents and trauma. However, older people especially can work to prevent falls—and potential hip fractures.

One in three people aged 65 or more living in the community fall at least once a year. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for individuals 65 and older. Almost all hip fractures among older adults are caused by falls. Here are some commonsense ways to prevent falls that could cause hip fractures.

Reduce tripping hazards:

  • Remove throw rugs, cords, and small objects.
  • Tack down or tape carpet edges.
  • Remove clutter.
  • Clear pathways of furniture and electrical cords.

Improve lighting:

  • Use night lights.
  • Add lamps.
  • Make sure hallways are lighted well.
  • Make sure there’s good lighting at the top and bottom of each flight of stairs.

Make the bathroom safer:

  • Put handrails in bathroom for bath, shower, and toilet use.
  • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.

Keep a cell or portable phone in reach, and:

  • Put a list of important phone numbers near the phone in large print.
  • If you have wall phones, they should be installed at least in the kitchen and bedroom.
  • If possible, replace wall phones with table designs, portable phones, or cell phones
  • Keep phone and charging cords out of walking areas.

Limit reaching or bending:

  • Store commonly used items on lower shelves or on counter tops.
  • Avoid using step stools.

Support and Resources

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:
https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/hip-fractures

What is a Hip Fracture?

A hip fracture is a break in the top of the femur or thighbone—the large bone between the hip and knee. There are two types of hip fractures:

  • Nondisplaced (the bone is broken but still remains in place)
  • Displaced (the bone has moved out of place)

Hip fractures are usually caused by a fall or a blow to the hip. They are most common in older people (those over age 65), especially those with osteoporosis [os-tee-oh-puh-ROH-sis] (bone loss). Hip fractures are rare in younger people and are usually caused by high-impact trauma.

A hip fracture is a serious injury. It can be very painful and make everyday tasks like dressing, bathing, and walking difficult until it heals. Pain from a hip fracture can cause delirium, depression, and sleeplessness. A hip fracture can also put you at risk for other health problems, including blood clots or pneumonia.