Anyone, at any age, can break a hip, although the injury is far more prevalent among those who are 65 and older. In fact, 95 percent of hip injuries occur in people who are over 65. Hip fractures are hard to ignore, as they usually cause severe pain in the hip and/or groin area. Oftentimes, sufferers have trouble walking afterward or are unable to walk at all.

What Causes Hip Fractures?

The majority of hip fractures are the result of a traumatic event, such as a fall. But in some older adults, whose bones have been greatly weakened by osteoporosis, a very minor trauma, even walking, could cause them to break a hip without falling, according to the National Institutes of Health. In younger adults, hip fractures commonly stem from severe trauma as the result of a sports injury or car accident.

Risk Factors for Hip Fractures

The following factors may all play a role in increasing a person's risk of developing a hip fracture.

  • Age.
  • Older people are more likely to sustain a hip fracture because bone density decreases with age, vision and balance begin to weaken, and the ability to react quickly slows.

  • Medical conditions.
  • In addition to osteoporosis, any condition that causes dizziness or balance problems can make an individual more prone to a fall. Similarly, arthritis may make stable, safe movements more difficult.

  • Gender.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 80 percent of hip fractures occur in women. This is largely due to the fact that estrogen levels drop after menopause, contributing to bone deterioration.

  • Poor nutrition.
  • A poor diet can lead to a deficiency of the nutrients needed to build stronger bones. Diets high in caffeine, for example, can prevent the absorption of calcium and vitamin D.

  • Inactivity.
  • A lack of low-impact weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or jogging, can also increase the risk of hip fractures.

Preventing Hip Fractures

It's especially important to prevent hip fractures because recovery is so difficult. Only 25 percent of hip fracture patients will make a full recovery, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. In addition, of the approximately 1.6 million people who suffer hip fractures worldwide each year, about 20 to 24 percent die within a year of the event, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk.

  • Know your bone density.
  • By knowing your bone density, you can begin to assess your risk for fractures. Ask your doctor about getting a bone density scan, especially if you're over age 65. If your test shows you have thin bones, you will be able to take appropriate preventative steps.

  • Eat a proper diet.
  • A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help to boost your bone health. Foods such as milk, cheese, dark green vegetables, some seafood, and almonds supplement the calcium needed to build stronger bones. Limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption may also be helpful.

  • Exercise.
  • Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking or jogging, can also help to build bone strength. In addition, activities such as Tai Chi or yoga, may help to improve balance.

  • Prevent falls.
  • Accidents happen, but there are steps you can take to avoid some common mishaps. To prevent household falls, make sure you have adequate space to move safely around your house, and get rid of any stray cords or rugs. In addition, furnish all walkways, stairs and entrances to your home with proper lighting, and place handles and non-slip mats in your shower to avoid slipping.

Treating Hip Fractures

Most hip fractures require surgery, although the type of surgery varies depends on the severity of the injury. Typical procedures involve inserting metal screws, a partial hip replacement, or total hip replacement. Generally, older patients are more likely to require hip replacement surgery.


When surgery is completed, patients generally find it hard to do ordinary household tasks, and some may require an in-home nurse or a rehabilitation center. However, the more active a patient is after the surgery, the quicker the recovery. As with any surgery, the best way to expedite recovery is to follow the doctor's orders as closely as possible.