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Dr. Bruce Jones, St. Luke's Hospital

Hip fractures can be devastating, but timely treatment helps

For many of us, when we hear the words "broken hip" we assume that this condition can be fixed easily and the person can go back to a normal way of life without major consequences. For some hip fracture patients, this could not be further from the truth.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the after-effects of breaking a hip, especially for women, can be devastating for those over 50 years of age.

The AAOS reports these facts:
  • Women are three times more likely to have a hip fracture than men.
  • White, post-menopausal women have a one-in-seven chance of fracturing a hip in their lifetimes.
  • The rate of hip fractures increases for women at age 50 and doubles every five to six years thereafter.
  • For women 5'8" or taller, the risk of breaking a hip is twice that of women who stand 5'2" or shorter.
  • Women who have experienced arm fractures previously in their lives are also at an increased risk for hip fractures.
Several factors in addition to gender influence the likelihood of one experiencing a hip fracture. These include age, heredity, nutrition, cognitive problems, balance issues and even side effects from medications.

Additional AAOS statistics show that about 25 percent of patients with hip fractures make a full recovery, while 40 percent will require nursing home care. In addition, 50 percent will require the use of a walker, and, unfortunately, 24 percent of patients over the age of 50 will die within 12 months after their hip fractures.

In general, most hip fractures will require some sort of surgical correction. Time is of the essence. Quick treatment of hip fractures helps ensure better recovery for the patient. Some patients, however, may be too ill for surgery, and other treatment options should be considered. Most surgeries focus on repairing the fracture with some kind of metal fixation. Partial or total hip replacement surgeries are also treatment considerations, depending on the fracture configuration, as well as other circumstances.

Dr. Bruce Jones specializes in joint replacement and orthopedic surgery at St. Luke's Hospital. To learn more about total hip replacement, visit St. Luke's Orthopedic and Total Joint Center page.

This article was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on April 19, 2012.

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