Hip Fractures Related to Trauma
A common type of injury that can happen in serious accidents is a hip fracture. This type of injury is serious and can result in life-threatening complications. While older adults are likelier to suffer hip fractures than those who are younger, anyone can suffer a hip fracture in a motor vehicle collision, pedestrian accident, motorcycle crash, truck collision, or slip and fall accident. Here is some information about hip fractures in accidents and how they are treated.What Is a Hip Fracture?
A hip fracture is a break to the upper portion of the femur, which is the largest bone of the body and runs from the knee to the pelvis. Hip fractures most commonly occur in elderly adults whose bones have weakened with age. However, children and young adults can also suffer hip fractures in serious car, motorcycle, truck, or pedestrian accidents, and people can also suffer hip fractures when they fall.
Four types of hip fractures can occur, including the following:
- Intertrochanteric fractures - Fractures that occur between the femoral neck and the femoral shaft
- Femoral neck fractures - Fractures to the neck of the femur below the femoral head
- Femoral head fractures - Fractures to the ball of the femoral head that are extremely rare and typically only occur in high-velocity crashes
- Subtrochanteric fractures - Fractures between the greater and lower trochanter of the upper femur
Any type of hip fracture requires immediate medical attention to treat and prevent potential complications. Surgery followed by physical therapy is typically required.Symptoms of a Hip Fracture
The symptoms of a hip fracture are usually immediately noticeable and can include the following:
- Severe pain in the groin or hip
- Inability to walk or to get up after falling
- Inability to place any weight on the leg on the injured hip's side
- Leg on the injured hip's side appearing shorter
- Swelling and bruising around the hip area
- Leg turning outward on the injured hip's side
If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms following an accident, you should go to the emergency department immediately for prompt treatment.Causes of Hip Fractures
Hip fractures most commonly occur in elderly adults when they fall because of weakened bones. However, severe impacts to the hip area can cause a fracture to occur regardless of age. Hip fractures in car accidents can happen when the victim suffers a significant blow to the hip area during a crash. They are common in motorcycle and pedestrian accidents due to the direct impact of the vehicle on the hip region of the pedestrian or cyclist. Hip fractures can also happen when people slip and fall from heights or even from a standing height when the victim has weak bones.
The following risk factors can increase your risk of suffering a hip fracture in a motor vehicle collision or other accident:
- Gender - Women are three times likelier to suffer hip fractures than men because they have lower bone densities, and their bone densities decrease faster than those in men because of drops in estrogen levels with menopause.
- Age - Older adults are likelier to suffer hip fractures than younger people because of decreases in muscle mass and bone density.
- Osteoporosis - People with osteoporosis have weaker bones that are more easily broken
- Hyperthyroidism - Having an overactive thyroid gland can increase bone fragility.
- Intestinal disorders - Conditions that reduce the body's ability to absorb calcium and vitamin D can cause weaker bones.
- Other medical disorders - Stroke, Parkinson's disease, and neuropathy can cause balance problems that increase a person's fall risk, and low blood pressure or low blood sugar can also cause a loss of balance.
- Certain types of medication - Corticosteroid medications that are taken on a long-term basis can cause the bones to weaken and make people more prone to suffering hip fractures.
- Nutritional deficiencies - Not getting enough vitamin D and calcium in your diet can reduce your bone mass and increase your risk of hip fractures in accidents.
Even if an accident victim has one or more of these risk factors, that will not necessarily prevent them from recovering compensation in an accident for their injuries when someone else was negligent and caused the incident in which they were injured.Complications of Hip Fractures
Suffering a fractured hip can lead to complications. Many people who suffer hip fractures will experience reduced independence. Among older adults, a hip fracture can mean the inability to regain their ability to live independently and can result in a shortened life.
If someone is unable to move for an extended time following a hip fracture, the following complications can arise:
- Blood clots forming in the legs that can travel to the lungs
- Loss of muscle mass
Hip fractures typically cause noticeable and immediate symptoms. When a hip fracture is suspected, a doctor will conduct a physical examination of the victim. In many cases, doctors can diagnose hip fractures based on the symptoms and the abnormal positioning of the leg and hip. A suspected fracture will be confirmed by an x-ray to determine its location and severity.
If an x-ray doesn't reveal a fracture, the doctor might order magnetic resonance imaging testing (MRI) to look for a hairline fracture.How Hip Fractures Are Treated
Hip fractures normally require immediate surgical repair followed by rehabilitation and physical therapy. Medication might be prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming, prevent infections, and manage pain.Surgery for Hip Fractures
Surgery is normally completed immediately following the diagnosis of a hip fracture. Before a surgical procedure will be performed, however, the doctor will first assess the patient to make sure they are in good enough health to handle the procedure. The type of procedure that will be performed will depend on the severity of the fracture, its location, whether the bones are displaced, your underlying health conditions, and your age. The surgical options that might be recommended include the following:
- Internal fixation with screws - This procedure involves the insertion of metal screws into the bone to hold it in place while the fracture heals. Screws might also be attached to a metal plate that is affixed to the bone.
- Partial hip replacement - This procedure might be recommended when the socket portion of the hip doesn't need to be replaced or the victim has other health conditions that make a full hip replacement too risky. A partial hip replacement involves replacing portions of the hip with prostheses.
- Total hip replacement - This procedure involves replacing the hip socket and the upper femur with prostheses. A total hip replacement might increase the chances that the victim will regain the ability to live independently and enjoy a better outcome.
A partial or total hip replacement might be recommended if the blood supply to the damaged area was interrupted because of the fracture. When the blood supply has been interrupted, it can cause damage that reduces the likelihood the bones will properly heal.Rehabilitation for Hip Fractures
Following surgery, most victims will need to spend time in rehabilitation to regain mobility and strengthen their muscles. It might be necessary to go to an extended care facility during the rehabilitation and recovery period, depending on the surgery that is performed.Physical and Occupational Therapy
Physical and occupational therapy will be completed during rehabilitation in an extended care facility or an outpatient setting. A physical therapist will teach strengthening exercises designed to help the victim regain mobility and strengthen their muscles and bones. An occupational therapist will work to increase the victims' independence in other areas, including bathing, toileting, cooking, and dressing. The occupational therapist will also help determine whether a wheelchair or walker might be necessary to increase the victim's independence.
Even with younger victims, a hip fracture can be debilitating and require months of rehabilitation and physical therapy to regain mobility and function. When someone suffers a hip fracture in an accident because of the negligence of another person or entity, the victim can pursue compensation for all of the losses they have suffered as a result.Contact Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC
If you suffered a hip fracture in a car, motorcycle, pedestrian, truck, or slip-and-fall accident because of the negligence of someone else, you should speak to the experienced injury lawyers at the Los Angeles law firm of Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC. We can review what happened in your case and help you understand the legal options that might be available to you. If we agree to accept representation, we will pursue maximum compensation for you. Contact us for a free consultation today at 866.966.5240.