When it comes to the elderly, we need to take tiny things a little more seriously like the aforementioned example for it could either be as simple as a muscle ache or as severe as a hip fracture. Yes, this article is about the hip fracture, which happens to the vast majority of the elderly (or even you yourself if you are 70 and come across this while surfing the net). Usually, after a fall, they complain of not being able to lift their leg up and have to be supported by others in order to move around. Some are able to walk but with pain over the hip region.
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Sudden pain in the hip and groin region
- Slight pain in the inner thigh
- Affected leg might appear shorter
- Inability to put weight on affected leg which results in inability to ambulate
- Inflammation of hip
- Bruising over hip region
While it is true that the elderly are the ones who are more prone to suffer from injury which results in a hip fracture, there are some other reasons for one to get a fracture over the hip.
What are the risk factors?
- Age: 70s and 80s
- Chronic disease
- Postmenopausal women
The fracture usually results from a simple fall, however, in very osteoporotic people, less force is required, perhaps no more than catching a toe in the carpet and twisting the hip. Here are the few types of fracture that decide the severity of the condition:
People are doing it all wrong when they choose to not pay attention to the pain over the hip region. Late consultation usually comes along with the complication of a fracture, no matter how minor the fracture is.
- Avascular necrosis
The fractured piece of bone might compress and obstruct the blood supply to the bone which then leads to the death of bone tissue after some time. It causes tiny breaks in the bone and eventually the collapse of the bone.
- Deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism
With the fracture causing much pain, some may choose to move around in a wheelchair instead, or even lie in bed for the rest of the time thinking the pain would go away itself. Unfortunately, no, but what comes along with lying in bed for a long time is that the blood starts to form clots due to immobility. (A blood clot is a thickened mass in the blood formed by tiny substances called platelets.) and the clots will travel in the vessels to your lung and cause a lot of respiratory problems like coughing up blood, chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Bed sores
With prolonged period of lying on the bed without active movement, ulcers will develop over the pressure point of the body with the bed, for example, heels, ankles, hips, and tailbone.
More than 30 percent of this fracture fail to unite, and the risk is particularly high in those severely displaced. There are many causes: poor blood supply, an imperfect technique of placing the displaced bone back and so on.
Funny how tiny details can lead to so many frightening complications.
How can one manage hip fracture?
Apart from the pain relief and maintenance of active lifestyle, surgery is still the mainstay of treatment to lower the risk of complications. You never know what could happen next, so never leave the old home alone. Remember, immediate treatment is the best way to prevent complications!
Apley’s System of Orthopedics and Fractures 9e.
by Angie Loh
A medical student with nothing but passion and a pen. Poems and novels never fail to make me feel alive. I'm inspired to make the world a better place and fill it with a little bit more love. But first, where's my coffee? View all articles by Angie Loh.