Jackie was a 76-year-old retired farmer when she decided to go to the bank to do some withdrawals with her son. In order to cross the parking lot she had to go over a chain over a foot high. While attempting to put her second foot over the chain, her foot tripped on the chain and she fell on the ground with her arms protecting her face. Jackie suffered a hip fracture and required surgery to fix her broken bones.
The hip is large, flat bone comprised of three bones: ilium, ischium and pubis. Together with the sacrum and coccyx, it forms the pelvis. The hip bone connects the lower limbs and the axial skeleton of the body. Moreover, the hip bone contains a large ball and socket joint, also known as the hip joint, connecting the pelvis the femur (bone in the upper thigh) to the pelvis.
Hip fractures are often considered a serious injury, even life-threatening. This is especially true for older people. The most at risk for hip surgeries are people older than 65, with risk increasingly greatly after the age of 80. Older people are more prone to hip fracture because with age comes bone weakening, also called osteoporosis. The most common cause of hip fracture is a trip and/ or a fall. Interestingly, about three fourths of all hip fracture casualties are women.
A hip fracture occurs when there is a crack or break in the top of the femur close to the hip joint. There are several different types of hip fractures but the most common types are femoral neck fracture and intertrochanteric hip fracture. The former is the more serious, commonly associated with osteoporosis, as it occurs one to two inches from the hip joint, which leads to an interruption of the blood supply to the head of the femur. The latter does not cut off blood supply to the bone and is easier to repair.
Hence, some of the symptoms of hip fracture comprise of low back pain, inability to lift, move, rotate (turn) the leg, unable to stand or put weight on the leg and a shorter leg or the leg turning outwards more on the injured side. If one is suspected of having sustained a broken hip, immediately call for emergency medical services or go to the hospital as soon as possible.
Check and monitor for breathing and pulse. If there is none, commence CPR. Protect the casualty from further injury. Lay the casualty on his/ her back. At either the ankle or the knee, tie the legs together. Legs may be straight or bent. It is necessary to immobilize the leg. If one is trained to do so, apply a splint. Using wadded-up blankets or towels, safeguard the leg with firm padding, kept in place by heavy objects. Paddings should go beyond the hip and knees. If no material is accessible, put one hand behind the casualty’s knee and the second arm along the top of the thigh, just below the pelvic area.
Ultimately, a hip fracture surgery will treat the casualty.
The instructions mentioned above do not substitute for complete treatment. However, the tips given are to alleviate pain and minimize risks of further injuries. These methods are taught in first aid classes.