Types of Hip Fractures
A broken hip is a serious condition no matter your age, and it almost always requires surgery to repair. Hip fractures are most often caused by falls or blunt trauma and if you suffer from osteoporosis, your chances of suffering from a broken hip increase dramatically. Usually, hip fractures occur in the ball portion of your femur, where it connects to your hip socket. However, you can also fracture the hip socket itself. There are three main types of hip fractures and they are all usually treated with hip surgery.
Femoral Neck Fracture
This type of hip fracture occurs in the femur, 1-2 inches from the head of the femur bone. Femoral neck fractures should be treated as quickly as possible because they can cut off circulation to your hip joint by tearing surrounding blood vessels. These are not common fractures and they usually occur in two populations – the highly active young and elderly people with osteoporosis.
In the younger group, femoral neck fractures are often stress fractures caused by high-energy trauma. They are most commonly found in runners or endurance athletes. For the seniors with osteoporosis these fractures can be caused by trips, bumps, or falls.
Intertrochanteric Hip Fracture
Intertrochanteric hip fractures occur further away from the joint (3-4 inches away) than femoral neck fractures, and they don’t stop blood flow to your femur. You’ll need to treat the fracture quickly to prevent it from healing incorrectly, creating scar tissue, or redirecting blood flow which can result in loss of limb or death.
Intertrochanteric fractures comprise around half of all hip fractures and are usually caused by low-energy impact, such as a fall from standing height.
Subtrochanteric Hip Fracture
Subtrochanteric fractures are a more traumatic hip fracture that affect the femur further down the leg toward the knee. The blood supply to this area of the femur is not as good as further up and this means that it heals much more slowly than other types of hip fracture. The longer a hip fracture takes to heal, the longer you are immobilized and the more likely it is – especially for older patients – that it can result in complications and morbidity.
Subtrochanteric Hip fractures are most often caused by slips and falls or by high-energy trauma, such as that caused by an automobile accident.
Hip Surgery and Recovery
Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need hip repair surgery or hip replacement surgery. Hip replacement surgery is more invasive and takes a longer recovery period than hip repair, but it is very effective. How well you recover from hip surgery will depend on your age, health, and your physical state before the hip fracture.
After hip surgery you will need to follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully and stay off of your hip for a few weeks. Physical therapy will help strengthen your muscles and bones and prevent muscle atrophy that could lead to another fall or break.