Hip Fractures From Accidents
Hip fractures are serious injuries. Among people who are over the age of 50 who suffer a hip fracture, 33% die within one year. Older adults who fracture their hips are between five and eight times likelier to die within three months of sustaining their injuries than others. They continue to have an increased risk of death for 10 years following a hip fracture. In most cases, hip fracture injuries occur in accidents, including car crashes, motorcycle collisions, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, and falls. Here is some information about hip fractures, their causes, and how they are treated.What is a Hip Fracture?
A hip fracture is a fracture located at the upper end of the femur. In most cases, fractures occur on the femoral neck near the ball that fits into the hip joint. These types of fractures happen when the upper portion of the femur breaks and normally result from motor vehicle accidents or falls. As people grow older, their bones become more brittle. This means that older adults are more susceptible to suffering hip fractures. When a person suffers a fractured hip, it will require immediate surgery. Some people have to get total hip replacements following hip fractures.Common Causes of Hip Fractures
In most cases, hip fractures are caused by accidents, including the following:
- Car crashes
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle wrecks
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slips, trips, and falls
Older adults can suffer hip fractures when they have minor falls or from suddenly turning or twisting. If someone has osteoporosis, they are even likelier to suffer a hip fracture. Hip fractures can also sometimes be caused by repetitive stress injuries in athletes, including marathon runners.Hip Fracture Statistics
Hip fractures are common types of injuries. According to researchers, one out of every three women and one out of every 12 men will suffer a hip fracture at some point in their lives. These types of injuries are especially common among adults over the age of 65, accounting for 86%. Researchers estimate that the number of people who suffer hip fractures will grow to 840,000 per year in the U.S. by 2040 because of the aging population.Risk Factors for Hip Fractures
Some of the risk factors for hip fractures include the following:
- Age - People older than 65 are more susceptible to hip fractures because of weakened bones and balance problems.
- Gender - Older women are much likelier to suffer hip fractures because of the loss of bone mass following menopause.
- Heavy alcohol use - People who regularly consume too much alcohol can suffer weakened bones and an increased chance of hip fractures.
- Sedentary lifestyle - People who don't get enough exercise have a higher risk of fracturing their hips.
- Osteoporosis - People who suffer from osteoporosis have porous, weakened bones and have a greater chance to suffer hip fractures in falls or accidents. Women are much likelier to develop osteoporosis than men.
- Certain medications - Some types of medication cause drowsiness or blood pressure drops that can result in a higher risk of falls.
The upper part of the femur includes a ball that fits into the hip socket of the pelvis. The ball and socket together form the hip joint, and soft tissues, ligaments, tendons, and muscles support it.
You can suffer a hip fracture in several places along the upper femur. Some of the most common places where hip fractures occur include the following:
- Fracture of the femoral neck - This is a fracture to the bone just below the ball of the upper femur.
- Intertrochanteric hip fracture - This is a fracture to the area of the femur between the neck and the straight, long part of the bone.
Hip fracture symptoms usually appear immediately. However, some people might experience gradual symptoms that worsen over time. Some of the common symptoms of a hip fracture include the following:
- Severe, sharp pain
- Achy or mild pain
- Radiating pain or sciatica
- Inability to stand or walk or very painful walking
- One leg appears shorter than the other
- Hip appearing rotated or twisted
If a hip fracture is suspected, a doctor will ask about your accident or fall and examine your hip. The doctor might also check for nerve damage by touching your leg or foot to see if you feel a sensation.
The doctor will likely order imaging studies to look for soft tissue damage and a fracture, including the following:
- X-ray to examine the bone and diagnose the fracture
- MRI to get a better look at the soft tissues and bones
- CT scan for a detailed image
The treatment you might receive for a hip fracture will depend on the type of fracture, your health, and your age. Most people will need to have surgery within a couple of days of the injury. However, some victims might not be healthy enough to undergo surgery right after their injuries.
Surgery might include using plates, nails, or screws to hold the bones in place. Depending on the severity of your injury, you might need to get a partial or total hip replacement. If you undergo hip replacement surgery, your doctor might recommend that you spend time in a rehabilitation center following your surgery to recover.
Physical therapy is commonly recommended following a hip fracture. Physical therapists create tailored therapy programs for people who suffer hip fractures to help them regain strength, flexibility, and mobility. You might be given specific exercises to perform to help increase your range of motion.
To manage pain and inflammation following a hip fracture, you might be prescribed pain medications or be told to take over-the-counter medications. You might also be prescribed antibiotics following surgery to lower your risk of suffering an infection.Is It Possible to Reduce the Risk of Hip Fractures?
While you can't prevent yourself from suffering a hip fracture in an accident, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. Make sure you get regular exercise to help to prevent bone loss and increase the strength of your muscles. Some good types of exercises to try that can improve both your balance and strength include weight training, tai chi, yoga, and swimming.
Make sure to follow a healthy diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D to make your bones stronger. See your doctor regularly and ask about getting a bone density test to check for signs that you might be developing osteoporosis. If you have osteoporosis, your doctor might prescribe medications to slow the loss of bone mass and strengthen your bones.
Whenever you drive, always wear your seat belt and exercise caution. Keep your attention focused on the road, and never drive while distracted, drowsy, or impaired. When you are walking in a store, your home, or anywhere else, pay attention to the environment and watch for problems that could cause you to fall.
If you smoke, stop. Smoking and drinking too much can both cause you to lose bone mass and weaken your bones. Keep at a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Make sure that you keep all of your eye appointments because vision problems can increase the risk of falling.Prognosis
Hip fractures can permanently change your life. Many older adults never regain independence or full mobility after they break their hips. Some people will require full-time care, while others might need to use a walker or cane.
Older adults do not heal as quickly from fractures, and some can't undergo surgery. This can leave a victim bedridden, which can lead to other conditions such as pneumonia, clotting problems, and bedsores.
If you have good overall health and make sure to start moving following surgery, your prognosis will be better. People who are in good health might be able to start walking within a few days after their surgery. If you can move, it can help to speed up your recovery and reduce your risk of suffering other complications.
Your prognosis might also depend on the type of fracture that you suffered and whether you suffered other tissue damage. If you suffered a fracture to the femoral neck, it might interfere with your blood supply and cause the bone to die. If you also suffered nerve or blood vessel damage, you can anticipate a longer recovery.Get Help From an Attorney
Breaking your hip in an accident can permanently change your life. If you suffered a hip fracture because of the negligent conduct of someone else, you should speak with an attorney at the law firm of Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC. Our lawyers can review the facts of your case and provide you with a fair assessment of its legal merits and the potential remedies that might be available. Call us today for a free case evaluation at 866-966-5240.