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What causes a hip fracture?

What causes a hip fracture? In order to explain what causes a hip fracture, it is necessary to have some understanding of the anatomy of the hip. The hip is a large structure of bone that forms a ball-and-socket joint. The buttock and thigh muscles as well as cartilage support the hip. One key element of the hip that is important to understand is how blood is supplied to it. Blood flows through the neck of the femur (thighbone). If for any reason, blood flow to the hip is stopped as a result of damage; there is no alternative blood supply to that area. If a hip should fracture and cause the blood to stop flowing to the hip, the bone will die. This is one of the complications of a hip fracture.

Regarding hip fractures, the first thing the doctor has to do is determine if the hip has truly been fractured. The diagnosis is not always as simple as one might think. Typically, X-rays are used to determine a hip fracture. Occasionally, X-rays do not show the fracture and an MRI is necessary to make small fractures visible so the doctor can make the proper diagnosis. On a rare occasion, a hip fracture may be treated without surgery. However, only if the doctor is of the opinion that the patient will be able to get out of bed in a few days, as long bed stays can be riskier than the possible complications from surgery.

Hip fractures occur for a number of reasons. Naturally, the elderly are most susceptible to hip fractures as a result of their frailness and as a result of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis weakens the bones that make up the hip leaving those with this condition in danger of a hip fracture. Another cause of hip fractures is falls. All it takes is for an elderly person to lose their balance and fall. However, an elderly person with osteoporosis may even fall as a result of the weakened bone in the hip breaking first, actually causing the fall.

It is very important to determine if pain in the hip after an injury or fall is a fractured hip or just pain from the injury or fall. If the patient is allowed to put weight on the legs, it may cause the fracture to displace (move apart) and no longer line up correctly. A displaced fracture significantly increases the risk that damage can occur to the hip’s blood supply causing even further complications in treating the fractured hip.

If you, or someone you know, has fractured a hip, call us at (239) 596-0100. Dr. Zehr is Southwest Florida’s most skilled and experienced surgeon in the direct anterior approach to total hip replacement. Total hip replacement may be required if a hip is fractured, and you will want the best orthopaedic surgeon to perform your hip replacement surgery.

For more information on this subject, call The Zehr Center for Orthopaedics at 239-596-0100 or visit www.zehrcenter.comThe information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments, or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of a visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read on this topic. 

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