The hip is a large, ball-and-socket joint. It is made up of two parts. The acetabulum (socket), is carved into the hip bone. And the ball, which is actually the top of the femur (thighbone). Daily, the hip is subject to much stress. This is due to movement, impact and weight. Fortunately, its design of bone, along with supporting cartilage and ligaments, makes it strong and flexible. However, it is not infallible.
More than 300,000 seniors over the age of 65 are hospitalized for hip fractures each year in the U.S. The primary cause of these breaks is a fall, often combined with frail bones. The majority of the ill-fated falls are to the side of the person, pointing to balance and strength issues.
Many hip fractures are preventable. It starts with knowing who is at risk. Then those at risk must take the necessary preventative measures.
Here are some of the factors that put a person at a higher risk of fracturing their hip.
- Poor balance or lack of mobility.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Cognitive impairment.
- Misuse or failure of walking aids.
- Poor vision.
- Poor nutrition.
- Female gender (75% of all hip fractures).
- Age: people 90 + are 15 times more likely to fracture a hip than people 60-65.
- Taking a medication or have a disease that make falls more likely.
- Have taken a previous fall.
- Have had a previous fracture.
Here are some things you can do to decrease your chances of breaking a hip.
- Lessen the risk of falling. It helps to clean clutter, add grab bars and improve lighting.
- If you are at high risk for falls, wear hip protectors regularly and properly.
- Strengthen the lower body and improve balance by incorporating weight-bearing exercise into your routine 3-4 times per week. Examples: walking and dancing.
- Eat a balanced diet that is rich in vitamin D and calcium.
- Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake.
- Utilize bone density testing and medications, when appropriate and with the supervision of your doctor.
Ask your doctor for specific recommendations that fit your medical, dietary and personal needs.
(Sources: Nat. Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, Amer. Acad. of Family Physicians , NIH, CDC)