Christa R. Haggai, Attorney-at-Law
A hip fracture is a femoral fracture that occurs in the proximal end of the femur (the long bone running through the thigh), near the hip. Most hip fractures, occurring in people with normal bones and bone density, occur as a result of a high impact automobile accident. A hip fracture can also be caused by a low energy slip and fall in an elderly patient. In the latter case, the injury might not be diagnosed until the elderly patient cannot bear weight after a low impact fall.
Treatment for a hip fracture almost always includes surgery and will either be internal fixation or hip replacement. Internal fixation involves stabilizing broken bones with surgical screws, rods, or plates. This type of surgery is usually for people who have fractures in which the bones can be properly aligned. Hip replacement, or arthroplasty, involves replacing part, or all, of the joint with artificial parts. A partial hip replacement may be done to replace the broken upper part of the femur with artificial parts. In some cases, a total hip replacement can be done if the hip joint area was already damaged before the fracture by arthritis or an injury and the joint was not working correctly. Arthroplasty is often done for femoral neck fractures when the blood supply to the top of the thighbone is damaged and there is a chance that the bone might die. Further, arthroplasty is often done when the fractured bones cannot be properly aligned.
Pain management is also important for the treatment of these types of fractures. Patients often take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen, acetaminophen and/or opioids.
Following any surgery, the patient will need fairly extensive physical therapy. This therapy will be necessary to help reduce stiffness and restore movement in the injured leg. The therapy may take several months for complete healing.