What Causes Hip Fractures in the Elderly?


Quick Answer

The elderly are susceptible to hip fractures because of osteoporosis, which makes their bones weak and more likely to break from minor falls. They also have an increased risk for falls because of eyesight and balance problems.

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What Causes Hip Fractures in the Elderly?
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Full Answer

Elderly women are at a higher risk for hip fractures because they experience more bone loss due to estrogen depletion from menopause. Other risk factors include osteoporosis, certain medical conditions, nutritional problems, physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use.

Hip fractures are dangerous and life changing because they reduce independence and mobility for long periods of time. Many previously healthy people spend up to a year in nursing homes because of complications from this condition. Complications include blood clots in the legs or lungs, bedsores, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and a risk of more fractures.

The treatment of hip fractures includes surgery, rehabilitation, and medications. The type of surgery depends on the location of the fracture, and common procedures include repair with hardware, replacement of a part of the femur, and replacement of an entire hip joint. Most patients are encouraged to move around the day after surgery. This typically involves getting out of bed and moving around the room with the help of the hospital care team. After surgery the doctor may also prescribe medication that belongs to the bisphosphonate class of drugs to strengthen the bones and decrease the incidence of future fractures.

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