Hip Fracture

A hip fracture is a break in the thigh bone (femur) of your hip joint. The hip is the largest weight-bearing joint in the body. It’s also a common place for a fracture after a fall—especially in older people. Your hip joint is a "ball and socket" joint, where your thigh bone meets your pelvic bone. The ball part of your hip joint is the head of the thigh bone. The socket is a cup-like structure in your pelvic bone, called the acetabulum. Hip fracture is a serious injury and requires immediate medical attention.

About 90 percent of hip fractures happen to people older than age 60. The incidence of hip fractures increases with age, doubling for each decade after age 50. Caucasians and Asians are more likely to be affected than others, primarily because of a higher rate of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis (loss of bone tissue) is a disease that weakens bones.

Women are more prone to osteoporosis than men; therefore, hip fracture is more common among women. They experience about 80 percent of all hip fractures. More than 1.5 million Americans have fractures annually because of osteoporosis.

Either a single break or multiple breaks can occur in a bone. A hip fracture is classified by the specific area of the break and the type of break(s) in your bone.
 

The most common types of hip fractures are:

  • Femoral neck fracture. A femoral neck fracture occurs 1 to 2 inches from your hip joint. This type of fracture is common among older adults and can be related to osteoporosis. This type of fracture may cause a complication, because the break usually cuts off the blood supply to the head of the thigh bone, which forms the hip joint.  
  • Intertrochanteric hip fracture. An intertrochanteric hip fracture occurs 3 to 4 inches from your hip joint. This type of fracture does not interrupt the blood supply to your bone and may be easier to repair. 

Around 90 percent of hip fractures fall into these 2 categories in relatively equal numbers. Another type of fracture, called a stress fracture of the hip, may be harder to diagnose. This is a hairline crack in the thigh bone that may not involve your whole bone. Overuse and repetitive motion can cause a stress fracture. The symptoms of this injury may mimic those of tendonitis or muscle strain.
 

A healthy hip

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint where the femur (thighbone) joins the pelvis. When the hip is healthy, you can walk, turn, and move without pain. The head or “ball” of the femur (thighbone) fits into a socket in the pelvis. The ball and socket are each covered with smooth cartilage. This allows the ball to glide easily in the socket. Blood vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to keep the hip joint healthy.
 

A fractured hip

The hip can fracture in many places. Most often, the fracture occurs in the upper part of the femur. Rarely, you can also have more than one type of fracture at a time:

  • A transcervical fracture is a break across the neck of the femur, just under the ball. This type of fracture can interrupt blood flow to the joint.
  • An intertrochanteric fracture is a break down through the top of the femur.
  • A subtrochanteric fracture is a break across the upper shaft of the femur.

Treatments

Your health care provider will determine specific treatment for hip fracture, based on: 

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectation for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

A fracture of your hip is generally treated with surgery. Your surgeon may use metal devices to strengthen and stabilize your joint. In some situations, he or she may do a total hip replacement. The type of surgical repair will depend on the type of hip fracture. Your surgeon will determine the best procedure for you, based on your individual situation. The goal of treatment is to provide relief from pain and enable you to resume your normal activity level. Hip surgery usually requires an in-hospital stay. While in the hospital, you begin doing physical therapy exercises to regain strength and range of motion in your hip. Physical therapy will continue at home or on admission to a rehabilitation facility.

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Treatments for Hip Fracture

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Symptoms and Screenings for Hip Fracture

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Causes and Preventions for Hip Fracture

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Education and Resources for Hip Fracture

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Support groups for Hip Fracture

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Learn More about Hip Fracture

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