Hip Fractures & Seniors

For more information, please call 304-399-1897

Of the 300,000 Americans age 65 or older who fracture a hip each year, 20 to 30 percent will die within 12 months, and many more will experience significant functional loss, according to a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Most hip fractures are a result of a fall. As we age, our bones can be weakened by the effects of osteoporosis or other medical conditions. A fall that would not have caused injury when we are younger may be devastating as we age.  

Hip Fracture Basics

This illustration shows a normal hip and femur. The femur, which is also known as the thigh bone, starts at the hip joint and ends at the knee joint.  It is the longest and strongest bone in the body, unless it has been weakened by osteoporosis.                                                                     

The hip joint connects the thigh bone to the pelvis. It has two main parts:  a ball at the top of your thigh bone and a socket in your pelvis.

Types of Fracture

A fracture is a complete or incomplete break in a bone.  There are many types of fractures. When the break is incomplete and the bones do not separate, it is called an undisplaced fracture. Other, more serious fractures cause the bone to separate partially or separate completely.  

Hip fractures come in many forms, depending on where the bone is broken. The fracture may involve an area on the neck of the femur, the top part of the femur or the mid or lower part of the femur. Your treatment depends on where the fracture is and how much the bone has separated. Almost all hip fractures and femur fractures require surgery to relieve pain and to restore the function in your hip and thigh.

Causes

Most hip fractures occur when you fall. A fall may be the result of loss of balance, medication side effects, poor vision, impaired mobility or an obstacle in the environment. Women are three times more likely to be hospitalized from a fall than men.

The Impact

A hip fracture is an insult to the system that may have impact on metabolic functions, which convert food and other substances into energy and other metabolic byproducts used by the body. This is further impacted by the fact that many older adults have at least one chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart problems; many have more than one chronic condition. A hip fracture can intensify the potential for complications, especially in the presence of pre-existing conditions. 

Recovery

A fractured hip often requires hospitalization and major surgery to repair the fracture. When immobile and hospitalized, your odds of complications from bedsores to pneumonia increase dramatically. This negative cascade of events can have a long-term impact on your overall quality of life. Surgery and hospitalization are often followed by extensive rehabilitation. Many people will require care and some will require nursing home placement. Unfortunately, only one in four adults who lived independently prior to the hip fracture will remain independent after the fracture is repaired. The risk of mortality, morbidity or debility (weakness) declines greatly if the fracture is repaired as soon as possible following the fracture.

The Senior Fracture Program

Senior Fracture Program Coordinator Rebecca Edwards, RN, BSN, CNRN, collaborates with staff to provide the most appropriate care.

Research shows that senior patients who are treated quickly after a fracture have better outcomes, and having surgery faster (within 24 hours or less) results in a shorter length of stay, a faster recovery, fewer complications and an increased likelihood to return to pre-injury levels of activity. Cabell Huntington Hospital’s Senior Fracture Program was developed to provide rapid and thorough care and treatment to seniors who fracture a hip, with the goal of optimizing their recovery and ability to return to daily activities at their pre-fracture functioning level. For more information about the program, please contact Becky Edwards at 304-399-1897 or Becky.Edwards@chhi.org.

 

  • Last updated: 02/19/2013
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