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A hip fracture is a partial or complete break in the top portion, or head, of your thigh bone (femur).

What causes the condition?
Hip fractures commonly occur from falls or accidents involving a strong blow to the hip.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of a hip fracture include sharp pain, swelling and bruising, numbness if nerve damage occurs, and, in severe cases, deformity.

How is it diagnosed?
Your doctor will talk with you about your symptoms and the history of the injury. An X-ray of the affected hip is needed for a complete diagnosis.

What is the treatment for a hip fracture?
Immediate care for a hip fracture includes rest and ice packs to reduce swelling. If the fracture is open, place a wet sterile bandage over the area. Stay warm to avoid shock, which can be caused by the loss of blood and body fluids. Immobilize the hip and leg and go to an emergency center as soon as possible.

Hip fractures usually require surgical realignment to secure the bone fragments together. This is completed with hardware such as nails, pins, screws, and/or plates. After surgery, your leg will be immobilized for approximately six to eight weeks, depending on the break. Crutches or a walker will be needed to walk.

Which medications are recommended for a hip fracture?
Your doctor may give you medications to reduce inflammation, pain, and anxiety. Examples of these are ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory), acetaminophen (for pain), and valium (for anxiety).

Will I need ongoing care?
Talk with your doctor about your rehabilitation program. This will begin after the bone is set and should include physical therapy, as well as a home program. Your doctor may recommend applying heat to the area to promote healing and offer pain relief. Other options include heating pads, hot baths, and ointments for muscle pain.

Are there any complications?
Possible complications include shock from the loss of blood and body fluids, infection, poor healing, joint stiffness, shortening of the leg, deformity, difficulty walking, and re-injury to the bone.

What are the expected outcomes?
Talk with your doctor about your prognosis. Your outcome depends largely on your health before the injury, your age, the extent of the injury, and how closely you follow your exercise and rehabilitation programs. Generally, if you are healthy, you will probably return to your regular daily activities following your recovery. Elderly individuals will probably require a longer recovery period and may not fully regain their pre-injury activity level. Most patients recover in approximately 6 to 8 weeks.