What you need to know about a broken hip

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Breaking a hip is life changing, both for patients and families. But there are many options available to patients who suffer from a hip fracture.

Though older people are at higher risk of hip fracture due to weakened bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis) or balance issues, broken hips can happen to anyone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1/3 of Americans over 65 fall each year, which translates to over 258,000 hospitalizations for hip fractures.

As the US population ages, it is estimated that by 2040 hip fractures will exceed 500,000.

Falls are the leading cause of death for older Americans. Though 75 percent of all hip fractures occur in women, mortality is higher among men.

Regardless, 1 in 5 people who break a hip after age 50 die within a year of their injury.  Further, hip fractures shorten remaining life by 25 percent on average.

The Broken Hip, a KERA News Breakthroughs series, explores the stories of North Texans and their families who have experienced the dramatic life change associated with this type of injury.

What is a hip fracture?

Hip fractures are fractures of the top of the femur or thighbone and they occur in two major types: typically though the neck of the femur or in the intertrochanteric section (widened part of the femur just below the neck).

Hip fractures most often are the result of a simple fall from standing and more often than not require surgical repair or replacement, followed by months of intensive physical therapy and potentially leaving home to recover in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

What are the risk factors for hip fractures?

  • Age
  • Osteoporosis
  • Recent fall
  • Previous fracture (45 percent)
  • Balance problems
  • Vision or hearing impairment
  • Cognitive impairment (dementia)
  • Neurological conditions such as stroke or Parkinson’s
  • Kidney disease
  • Excessive alcohol use 3+ drinks a day
  • Smoking
  • Medications that may contribute to weakened bone

How can hip fractures be prevented?

  • Make your home “fall proof” with these fall prevention tips. Also, visit this interactive graphic by KERA for more information.
  • Osteoporosis identification and treatment
  • Weight-bearing exercises

Listen to the entire The Broken Hip podcast.

You can also download a complete guide to hip fracture treatment from the Joint Wellness Program at Baylor University Medical Center.

About the author

Dr. Alan Jones
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Dr. Jones is the medical director of orthopedic trauma and program director of the orthopedic residency program at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas (BUMC). He is also a clinical professor at Texas A&M University Health Science Center. His interests include fishing, hunting and marathon running.

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What you need to know about a broken hip