What is a lower extremity hip fracture?

A hip fracture is a break in the upper part of the thigh (femur) bone. The severity of the break depends on the amount of force that caused the break.

Causes of a hip fracture

Causes of a hip fracture include:

  • Falls or direct blows to the hip
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stress fractures
  • Cancer can weaken the hip to make it more vulnerable to breaking

Risk factors for a hip fracture

  • Age — the risk for hip, thigh or lower leg fractures increases with age as bones weaken.
  • Gender — more than 70% of fractures in the lower extremity occur in women.
  • Heredity — a family history of broken bones puts you at higher risk for another hip fracture.
  • Arthritis — patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to sustain a hip, thigh or leg fracture.
  • Lifestyle — smoking, alcohol use, lack of exercise, poor nutrition can put you at a higher risk for a lower extremity fracture.

Symptoms of a hip fracture

Patients with hip fractures may have pain in the groin area or on top of the outer thigh bone. It will be very uncomfortable to flex or rotate the hip.

If the hip has been weakened due to other injuries, such as cancer or osteoarthritis, the patient may feel aching in the groin or thigh.

Diagnosis of a hip fracture

If you suspect you have a hip fracture, visit your Mercy Health doctor right away.

Your doctor will order an x-ray or CT scan. The x-ray will look at the hip and femur and show if the bone is broken, where the bone is broken and how severe the injury is. If the break does not show up on an x-ray, a CT scan or MRI can show the extent of the injury.

Treatment for a hip fracture

Surgery is typically recommended to repair a hip fracture. Hip repair will involve placing screws, nails, rods and plates into the hip to correct the fracture. A hip replacement surgery (arthroplasty) will be recommended in severe cases. Patients recover more fully when the hip is operated on relatively quickly.

Medical realignment

There are some patients who may be too ill to endure surgery, so the doctor may try to realign the hip.


The type of surgery needed to repair a fractured hip is dependent on the extent of the damage and other impacted areas.

Two types of surgery are typically used to repair a broken hip:

  • Hip repair — using pins, plates, rods or screws to stabilize the broken bone. This surgery is used when the fractures are easy to align.
  • Hip replacement — replacing all or part of the hip joint with an artificial joint that is made of metal or plastic.

Recovery from a hip fracture

To control pain and prevent blood clots, anti-inflammatory medication is necessary after hip fracture surgery. Patients will also be asked to move around after surgery and begin some light exercises within days.

Most patients stay in the hospital two to seven days after surgery. In some cases, you may need to go to a rehab facility to build back your strength prior to going home.

If you follow your doctor’s rehabilitation program, you will regain function and mobility after surgery.

Schedule an Appointment with an Orthopedic Specialist Near You

Mercy Health locations that can treat you