Each year in the United States, 300,000 people (mainly older adults) require hospitalization for hip fractures. And, this number is expected to rise to about half a million annually by 2040, thanks to an aging population.
Treating these hip fractures right from the start is paramount because life after a hip fracture can be fraught with complications. Alarmingly, about 1 out of 5 older people (21%) who fracture a hip die within the first year.
At Western Orthopaedics, our skilled and experienced orthopaedics team has a hip specialist among its ranks — Dr. Brian White. Between his expertise and the general fracture knowledge among our staff, our goal is to help patients avoid the serious complications of a hip fracture by treating the problem correctly, right from the start.
The many ways a hip can fracture
Broken bones may seem fairly straightforward, but most fractures aren’t quite as simple as a cleanly broken bone. There are often many ways in which a fracture can occur in an area, and this is certainly true of a large joint like the hip.
Your hips are ball-and-socket joints where your femur (thigh bone) meets your pelvis. To join your leg to your body, your pelvis features a socket, called the acetabulum, which accommodates the top of your femur, or femoral head.
Given the different bones involved in your hip, there are several types of hip fractures, including the following:
- Pelvic fracture
- Acetabular fracture (a fracture in the socket)
- Femoral neck break (just below the femoral head)
- Intertrochanteric fracture, just below the neck
- Subtrochanteric break, below the intertrochanteric area
- Femoral head fracture
As you can see, the first step in getting the right treatment for your hip fracture is getting the right diagnosis, which we can do with advanced imaging.
Treating your hip fracture
Once Dr. White has a clear idea of what type of hip fracture you’ve sustained, he does a little background work to help him figure out which treatment is best. For example, we need to review your medical history to see whether surgery is a viable option.
Almost as important as your health is your lifestyle — are you active, for example? If you are, it’s a good bet that your hip is in better shape than if you lead a more sedentary life, so the fact that you’ve been active will help with healing.
When Dr. White has a clear and complete picture, he makes a recommendation, which will likely include surgery that stabilizes the joint with metal inserts and screws. A hip replacement may also be an option. If you have a simple hairline fracture, we may recommend nonsurgical solutions like rest and physical therapy (PT).
The alarming 21% one-year mortality rate we mentioned earlier is a good deal lower than it was just a decade or two ago when it was about 30%. That’s because we’re realizing the importance of getting you up and moving as quickly (and safely) as possible after a hip fracture. To accomplish this, our surgical techniques now prioritize immediate mobilization with full weight-bearing.
After your surgery you can expect a good deal of PT, which furthers the goal of getting mobile and bearing weight on the fractured hip as soon as possible.
If you want to get a better idea about what your options are after a hip fracture, we invite you to contact one of our offices in Arvada or Denver, Colorado, to schedule an appointment with Dr. White.