Patient Education Library
Hip Fracture - ORIF
The primary function of the Hip Joint is to support the weight of our head, trunk, and arms while we are still or moving. The Hip Joint provides a base of support that allows us to hold our body upright when we sit or stand. Likewise, the Hip Joint provides stability for our upper body while positioning the lower body for movement. The Hip Joint allows our legs to move to the front and back and from side to side as we walk, run, and climb stairs. The Hip Joint also allows our legs to rotate inward and outward. We rotate our legs when we place our feet on the ground. We angle our toes inward or outward for balance.
Women experience more Hip Fractures than men. Women may be more susceptible because of differences in their skeletal structure and bone composition. Additionally, women may have higher rates of bone density loss from Osteoporosis, a bone weakening disease. For both women and men, bone density generally decreases after the age of 50.
Falls are the leading cause of injury for older adults. Interestingly, the type of fall that typically causes a hip injury takes place on a level surface as opposed to falling down a flight of stairs. Individuals tend to fall from a standing position or from a sitting position on a chair or bed. This may be because some older adults develop slow and weak body movements. They may have difficulty compensating for changes in position. These individuals may not be able to carry their bodies forward to fall on their hands. Instead, they tend to fall back or sideways onto their hips.
Side effects or interactions from medication can cause balance problems associated with falls. Older adults that take four or more medications or certain types of medications have the highest fall risk. Medications such as sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and anti-anxiety drugs may cause changes in vision, movement, and balance.
Some medical conditions are associated with an increased risk for falls. These include Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, and arthritis, plus any diagnoses that causes a change in thought processing or vision.
Some fractures do not show up on X-rays. Your doctor might order a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan for a very detailed view of your hip structure. Like the X-ray, the MRI scan is painless and requires you to remain very still while the images are taken.
Hip Fractures are classified by the location of the fracture. Your doctor can determine which type you have experienced by viewing your medical images. The most common fractures are Femoral Neck Fractures, Intertrochanteric Fractures, and Subtrochanteric Fractures.
Hip Fracture surgery is highly individualized. The type of surgery depends on the location of the fracture. Your surgery can take place as soon as you are medically stable. This is an inpatient surgery, requiring hospitalization. You will be admitted to the hospital for the surgery and can expect to spend a few days there while you recover.
You will have spinal or general anesthesia for the surgery. Your surgeon will make an incision at your hip and realign your broken bones. This procedure is called an Open Reduction. Your surgeon will use surgical hardware, termed Internal Fixators, to hold your bones in place while they heal. The complete surgical procedure is called an Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF).
The type of surgical hardware used depends on the type of fracture. Femoral Neck Fractures are commonly treated with multiple surgical screws. In some cases, the Femoral Head is replaced with an artificial piece. This procedure is called a Hemiarthroplasty. A side plate and metal surgical screws are used for Intertrochanteric Fractures and Subtrochanteric Fractures. Some Subtrochanteric Fractures are secured with a metal rod that inserts into the bone.
You will need to use a walker or crutches while standing and walking. Your doctor will let you know how much weight to put on your foot. Your doctor will use X-rays to see how your bones have healed.
Following your surgery, your doctor will prescribe physical therapy to help regain range of motion and strength in your hip. Initially, you will need to build up your strength to roll and sit up in bed. At first, you will stand with the aid of a device, such as a walker. As you heal, you will be allowed to place more weight on your affected leg. Your physical therapist will assist you with walking. You may need to use a cane or walker until your balance and strength has improved. As you recover, your physical therapy program will include further exercises to increase your strength and endurance to help you walk as independently as possible.
Your physical therapists will instruct you on Hip Precautions, body positions to protect the hip while it heals. They may also recommend durable medical equipment for your home, such as a raised toilet seat or a shower chair. The equipment may make it easier for you to take care of yourself as you heal and help to prevent injury.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.