Hip Fractures and Replacement Surgery
Aging > Hip fractures and replacement surgery
Hip fractures are among the most common traumatic injuries sustained by the elderly, making them an important issue for aging populations. A hip fracture is a break near the top of the thighbone where it meets the hip socket. Bones weakened by osteoporosis become brittle and can break more easily than younger healthy bones, thus leading to fractures of weight-bearing joints such as the hips. A woman’s chances of having a hip fracture in her lifetime are one in seven. A man’s changes are one in seventeen.
There are two types of hip fractures that can occur. They are femoral neck fractures, which are 1-2 inches from the joint, and intertrochanteric fractures, which occur 3-4 inches from the joint. The type of fracture typically dictates the type of treatment received when a break has taken place.
When treatment is sought for a broken hip, a doctor repositions the bone and holds it in place with some sort of securing device. In the case of femoral neck fractures, surgical screws are typically used in younger patients, while older patients are usually given more substantial metal devices inserted in the actual socket that act as a replacement for the head of the hip bone. For intertrochanteric fractures, a screw and metal plate are used to hold the broken bone in place while the head of the bone is left to move about in the socket as it normally would. Physical therapy is usually needed to regain walking abilities once surgery is complete.
Though seen as a normal part of the aging process, steps can be taken to help prevent hip fractures in the elderly. Consuming enough calcium can help maintain proper bone densities, and refraining from alcohol and cigarette use has also been proven to reduce risk of hip fractures in aging patients. Women are at a higher risk for fractures than men, and people with family histories of broken hips should exercise greater caution, as there are hereditary links regarding bone densities and susceptibility to injury.
Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent the bone loss that leads to hip injuries. Weight-bearing exercising and light strength training, as well as hiking, dancing and jogging can help maintain bone health.
Because most hip fractures occur due to falls, proper home safety can greatly reduce chances of injury. Slip resistant rugs, non-skid adhesives for bathtubs and grab bars for showers and toilet areas can reduce risk of falling. Keeping stairs clear and well lit, keeping floors clutter-free, and arranging furniture with definite pathways are all important safeguards for elderly homes. Electrical cords should be hidden and kept away from paths, and spills should be immediately cleaned. These preventative measures help ensure a safe home environment, and, in conjunction with proper nutrition and exercise regimens, can drastically reduce the risk of hip fractures in aging individuals.