Hip fractures are injuries of the hip which is basically a “ball and socket” joint that allows the upper leg to bend and rotate. The “ball” is called the femoral head; the “socket” is the part of the pelvis known as the acetabulum. Both the femoral head and the acetabulum are coated with articular cartilage, which allows for smooth, painless movement within the hip joint.
More than 300,000 Americans are hospitalized with hip fractures every year. A hip fracture is more common in people ages 65 and older. As people age, their bones gradually become less dense and, as a result, become weaker. Hip fractures can be caused by a fall, direct blow to the hip joint or simply by having weak bones from osteoporosis. In younger patients with stronger bones, more common causes of a broken hip may include high-impact injuries caused by car, motorcycle and biking accidents or work-related incidents.
Symptoms of a hip fracture include severe pain, immobility and bruising and swelling in the hip and leg area. In addition, the leg on the side of the fractured hip may be shorter and unable to hold weight.
When Dr. Louis examines a patient for fractures in the lower extremities, he looks for the following:
- Loss of range of motion
- Pain in the lower extremities
- Weakness in the lower extremities
- Open wounds
A hip fracture typically causes pain, tenderness, bruising, swelling and some deformity of the hip. You may be unable to put weight on your leg on the side of the injured hip.
These injuries can occur due to a traumatic incident or a fall. In people with very weak bones, a hip fracture can occur simply by standing on the leg and twisting. Dr. Louis will perform a thorough examination to evaluate and determine the extent of your arm injuries and conduct a complete review of your medical history.
He may also utilized diagnostic tools such as an MRI, X-ray or CT scan to confirm the extent of your condition.
Treatment of a hip fracture almost always requires surgery. In some cases, such as a stress fracture of the hip, or in elderly patients who have sever medical problems, surgery may not be recommended.
Surgical treatment for hip fractures can involve one of the following: inserting metal screws to hold the fractured hip while it heals (called internal fixation), replacing the broken parts of the femur with a metal prosthesis (known as hemiarthroplasty), or completely replacing the hip with a prostheses. Dr. Louis is one of the few orthopedic surgeons in Illinois using the direct anterior approach, one of the newest minimally invasive techniques used in hip replacement surgery. (link to direct anterior) This approach is from the anterior (front part of the body), and causes less tissue damage than the more traditional posterior (back) approach. After surgery, for a hip fracture, an extensive rehabilitation program is almost always necessary for a proper and speedy recovery.