Hip Fracture

By :Ehren Allen, DPT, COMT

What is the Hip Joint?

The hip joint is where the thigh bone comes together with the pelvis.  It functions like a ball and socket.  The thigh bone (femur) has a ball shaped end which fits in to a socket shaped part of the pelvis called the acetabulum.  JOI has a hip video if you want to learn more about the hip, please go tohip

Why is a Hip Fracture so Dangerous?

Hip fractures are a common injury with falls, especially in the elderly.  Hip fractures are more common with patients with thinning bones from conditions of osteoporosis. So, what is a hip fracture?  The quick answer is when one of the bones of the hip(the head or neck of the femur) fractures or the bone breaks.

Hip fractures are dangerous because there is about a 20% mortality rate from complications which may occur.  Issues may include:

  • Decreased walking tolerance
  • Increased fall risk
  • Post surgical complications
  • Blood clot in the hip region

Can you Still Walk with a Fractured Hip?

It is possible to walk with a hip fracture if it is a mild injury or a hairline fracture. There are several types of hip fractures. The type of fracture in the hip above the angle of the thigh bone is an intra-capsular fracture. The type of fracture that occurs at or below the angle (bend) of the thigh bone (femur) is an extra-capsular fracture. 

Placing weight through a fractured bone is typically painful but walking may be possible in some cases. The location of the fracture in the hip can affect the amount of pain with walking as well.

Image of a hip fracture from JOIHip Fracture  

Can a Fractured Hip Heal on its Own?

Bones, including the bones of the hip typically heal well after a fracture. Not all hip fractures require surgery to heal.  Some may require limited weight bearing for a period to allow healing but it is possible for some hip fractures to heal on their own.

If a hip fracture is severe or displaced, it may require surgery to repair it. This may involve hardware such as nails or pins.  JOI has several surgeons who can help you with your hip fracture. 

Femur Fracture TypesTypes of Femur Fractures 

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Hip Fracture?

Hip fracture recovery time varies. Without surgery, hip fractures typically heal in 6 to 10 weeks. It may take longer to return to normal functional and walking due to weakness and stiffness that may develop if a patient is non-weight bearing for a period.  

In cases where surgery is needed, recovery takes longer because there is healing from the surgical procedure as well. Full healing form a surgical hip repair can take up to a year, but typically, people are back to normal life activities in 3 to 4 months.

How do I Know if I Have a Hip Fracture?

In the middle aged and elderly populations, with sudden onset of hip bone pain, it is recommended to go to be evaluated. Typically and X-ray is ordered, especially if a fall was involved. If a fracture is detected, patients are typically referred to an orthopedic surgeon to determine the course of treatment.  Stress fractures of the hip can also occur at any age.  So, if your hip pain is persistent, it is important to get it evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon. 

If you want to learn more about the hip, go to: Hip Pain Can't Wait.

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