Hip fractures generally occur when you lose your balance, stumble over something or slip, such as when in the shower or getting out of the tub. Vision loss, balance problems, and multiple medications can also increase the risk of falling and breaking a hip.
According to the CDC, women experience three quarters of all hip fractures. This happens in large part, because women more often have osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to weaken and break more easily.
Taking precautions to help keep bones healthy and prevent a fall that could result in a hip fracture is something everyone should do, particularly older adults.
– Eliminate tripping hazards such as throw rugs, loose electrical cords, or furniture and other items in your pathway.
– Make sure hallways and rooms are well lit.
– Install grab bars in the bathroom, specifically near the toilet and in the shower or tub, to provide stability.
– Use a cane or other assistive device if you feel unsteady walking.
– Take your time when rising from a seated or prone position so your body has time to regain its balance.
– With a doctor’s approval, exercise to keep your bones healthy, your muscles strong, and improve balance.
– Review medicines with your doctor to determine if any might make you dizzy or sleepy.
– Get screened for osteoporosis and treated if necessary. Calcium supplements and certain medications can help treat osteoporosis.
If a fall does occur, signs of a hip fracture include severe hip or groin pain; the inability to put weight on a leg; bruising and swelling around the hip area; or a shift in the position of the leg.
A fractured hip will not heal on its own and can cause severe pain. Surgery is almost always required for hip fractures. Delaying the procedure typically means that strong pain medication will be necessary, which has its own set of risks as older adults tend to be more susceptible to side effects. Further, pain medications can exacerbate confusion or dementia.
Surgery usually involves a minimally invasive or X-ray guided procedure in which the hip is either repaired or partially or totally replaced. Patients typically stay in the hospital for four days, and physical therapy is part of the recovery process.
For more information, visit PrincetonHCS.org, or call Penn Medicine Princeton Health at 888-742-7496.