Broken hip, types of prostheses and prevention

A hip is located where the thigh and pelvis meet. In a serious fall, the upper leg can break and a hip fracture occurs, which is usually called a broken hip. Broken hips can occur at various ages, but in practice it appears that older people in particular are affected. A broken hip can be treated with two types of prostheses: a bipolar or a total prosthesis. But prevention is of course better, so it is good to check whether everything in the house is safe.

Diagnosis of broken hip

A broken hip is usually accompanied by severe pain around the hip or groin and swelling in the hip area. An external phenomenon is that the leg on the fracture side is often shorter and slightly twisted. A physical examination and X-rays provide a definitive answer to whether there is a broken hip.

The elderly belong to a risk group

A broken hip is caused by a fall in 97 percent of cases. Every year, thousands of patients end up in hospital with a broken hip and even the number of deaths is relatively high. Most of those patients are over 55 years old. While in younger people a broken hip only occurs after a serious trauma, such as a serious sports injury or an accident at work, in older people it can occur after relatively minor trauma. In addition, bone density declines much faster in older women than in men, making them three times more likely to suffer a broken hip than in older men.

Operating technique depends on the type of fracture

In the elderly, the cartilage has often become more brittle and there may be wear or osteoarthritis of the hip joint. A weak spot may also have developed just below the femoral head due to osteoporosis or bone decalcification. In the event of a fall, such a force occurs that the femoral head can break off due to these weakenings. However, the fracture can also occur a few centimeters lower, which is important for the surgical treatment. Depending on the type of fracture, the orthopedist chooses a specific surgical technique.

Two types of prostheses

There are two treatment options: the bipolar prosthesis and the total prosthesis.

The bipolar prosthesis

It often happens with a fracture of the hip that the pelvic part is still intact as far as the cartilage is concerned. In that case, nothing surgical is required. The ball of the hip prosthesis can then slide against the cartilage layer of the socket of the pelvis. An operation for a bipolar prosthesis takes less time than a total hip prosthesis. The bipolar hip prosthesis is usually also used in patients who have a low degree of movement, such as the elderly, where the prosthesis is subject to less strain.

The total prosthesis

With a total hip prosthesis, not only the femoral head is replaced, but a prosthetic component is also placed in the pelvis.

Prevention is important

Because a broken hip is often accompanied by severe pain and undergoing surgery is no fun, it is better to do everything possible to prevent a broken hip due to a fall. It is wise, especially for the elderly, to take a number of measures. Causes of a fall are often sliding rugs, obstacles such as loose cables, steps that cannot be seen in a poorly lit room, not finding support on stairs and even walking along in the middle of a wide staircase in a crowd, obstacles on the street or loose tiles. and certainly also slippery bathroom floors and the like.

Calcium and vitamin D

As we get older, keeping the bones in good condition can also be taken into account. Sufficient calcium and vitamin D are important. Foods rich in calcium include almonds, dark green vegetables, citrus fruits, milk and milk products, sardines and canned salmon. Vitamin D can be gained from sunlight on the skin. Bones will also remain stronger by being active and not smoking reduces the risk of bone density decreasing.

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