When you think of serious health problems, you probably think of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, or a heart attack. I doubt that a hip fracture is at the top of your list. But a hip fracture can be problematic and even fatal.
When you suffer a hip fracture, especially when you’re older, there’s a good chance that you will lose your independence. Many people never recover completely from such a fracture and require assistance to complete daily tasks like getting dressed or preparing a meal.
Even worse, up to 20% of people who suffer a hip fracture die within the following year.
Three Steps to Reduce Your Risk of Hip Fracture
When it comes to hip fractures, reducing your risk is key.
Your first line of defense is strong bones. You can help to keep your bones strong by making sure you get enough vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin K each day. You need at least 400 IU of vitamin D each day, 1200 mg of calcium, 300 to 400 mg of magnesium, and up to 150 mcg of vitamin K.
You should also spend 30 minutes three times each week doing weight training or resistance training.
The second step toward reducing your risk of a hip fracture is to reduce your risk of falling. Make sure your home environment is safe. Add carpets with a mat beneath to any areas that are potentially slippery. Keep steps and handrails in good repair. Make sure items like shoes get put away rather than creating an obstacle in the middle of the floor.
Also, practice balance exercises every day. Improving your balance can greatly reduce your risk of falls.
The third step to help prevent falls is to have your vision checked at least once each year. Many people often don’t see obstacles in their line of walk. Speed bumps are often not marked properly and contribute to a lot of falls by the elderly population. I suggest that you always put on your glasses before walking outside. And look down often to eliminate the chance of missing a curb. Failing vision is one of the major contributors to fracture caused by freak falls…so don’t overlook this step.
What to Expect if You Do Fracture a Hip
If you do fracture your hip you will either need a long period in traction to heal or your doctor will recommend surgery. This is one of those situations when surgery is often preferable.
Either way, healing and recovering your mobility will take time. Being immobile can lead to a number of complications such as urinary tract infections, muscle atrophy, or deep vein thrombosis. Discuss ways to reduce your risks of these complications with your doctor.
Also, enlist the help of family members to keep you company, to keep your mood positive, and to help you out with your daily tasks.
Is Hip Replacement Surgery Right for You?
In some cases, whether you’ve injured your hip in a fall or suffered damage from rheumatoid arthritis or bone tumors, you may need to consider hip replacement surgery.
In a hip replacement surgery, your doctor will remove the damaged joint and replace it with a man-made one. If you are healthy going into the surgery, chances are good that you will do very well after the surgery.
It’s important to work closely with a physical therapist after a hip replacement surgery. The therapist will help you adjust to moving with a new hip by giving you the proper exercises that will help build strength and increase mobility.
If you do need a hip replacement surgery, discuss laparoscopic options with your doctor. Laparscopic surgery is less invasive and usually means less pain and a shorter recovery time.
Hip injuries are serious. The best thing you can do is take steps to prevent an injury from happening. Fortunately, if you do experience a hip injury, you have many options to help ensure you make a complete recovery.
Mark Bromson, M.D.
Photo Credit: brookshealth.org