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Broken Hip Symptoms

A broken hip, also known as a fractured neck of femur, is a common and serious fracture of the upper femur, mostly suffered by elderly people and sometimes without significant trauma. As the elderly population increases so has the incidence of people with reduced bone density or osteoporosis in the upper femur.

The typical precipitating factor is usually a fall which could be a trip over something or maybe just falling over as they turn and feel dizzy. In some cases a fracture may occur just on stepping or turning as the bone is so fragile that a fall is not needed.

The immediate symptom is pain in the side of the hip and in the groin with an inability to weight bear on the leg. The leg is often turned outwards due to the pull of the muscles and is shortened if the fracture has moved. On attempting to move the leg there will be resistance and pain and a limited range of movement.

Broken hip surgery is the typical and most common treatment with open reduction and internal fixaton of the fracture with a metal implant such as the dynamic hip screw or DHS. In impacted fractures (stable due to being pushed together) then broken hip therapy may be conservative, with the patient mobilised within pain limits by the physiotherapist.

Broken hip recovery varies greatly due to the differences in the patients who suffer this fracture, of which about a quarter die within the following six months. Younger, fitter patients have a much shorter broken hip recovery time due to their greater fitness and absence of additional medical conditions.

With these variations in fitness, treatments and post-operative complications the broken hip hospital stay can be as short as a few days to get mobile or a much longer period with perhaps placement in a nursing home as the patient is unable to self care.

Further reading is at the Merck Manual of Health and Ageing page "Hip Fractures" and at

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