The hip is an interesting and complex structure in our body; just see the reference photos later in this article to picture how magnificent your physical body is built. With such an intricate structure it makes the recovery process for hip injuries complicated, painful and dangerous.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a hip fracture is a break in the upper part of the femur (thighbone), often as a result of a fall or other impact. The upper part of the femur fits into the pelvis, just as a ball fits into a socket. In an impact injury, when the ball portion of the femur fractures there can be serious consequences, including chronic pain, decreased mobility and, in combination with other factors, can lead to death.
How serious are hip fractures?
The impact of a hip fracture on a Vancouver, WA resident’s quality of life cannot be overstated. Even after surgical intervention, patients often experience chronic pain and decreased mobility, which can limit their ability to perform daily activities and live independently. In addition to the physical challenges, hip fractures can also have psychological and emotional consequences. Patients may experience depression, anxiety, and a reduced sense of well-being as a result of their injury and its effect on their lifestyle.
Hip fractures also carry a significant risk of complications and mortality, particularly among older adults. According to the Merck Manual, mortality rates for hip fractures range from 10% to 30% within the first year after injury, with the highest rates among those over the age of 80. In addition to mortality, complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pneumonia and pressure ulcers can also occur as a result of a hip fracture.
Statistics on the incidence and prevalence of hip fractures highlight the severity of this injury. The Mayo Clinic approximates 300,000 hip fractures occur each year in the United States, with women being more likely than men to experience this injury. The incidence of hip fractures is also expected to increase in the coming years, as the population ages and the prevalence of conditions such as osteoporosis (a key risk factor for hip fractures) continues to rise.
What are common causes of hip fractures?
Hip fractures generally occur due to impact injuries. Below is a list of common causes for hip fractures in Vancouver, Washington:
- Car accidents: Whether an individual in a car-to-car accident or physically struck as a pedestrian by a vehicle, both impact injuries can result in hip fracture. If the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, such as driving under the influence or texting while driving, the responsible party may be liable for the resulting injury. With the high frequency of car crashes in Vancouver’s Fourth Plain Boulevard, pedestrians and drivers should be sure to take all precautions while on the roadways.
- Slips & falls: Falls are a common cause of hip fractures, particularly among older adults. In many cases, falls occur due to hazards such as uneven flooring, poor lighting or lack of handrails. If the fall occurred on someone else’s property, such as a store or public space and was caused by their negligence in maintaining a safe environment, they may be held liable.
- Assault: If an assault or an act of deliberate intimidation leads to impact on the hip resulting in a fracture, the responsible party may be held criminally and civilly liable for the injuries caused.
- Age-related factors: As we age, our bones become more brittle and are more susceptible to fracture. This is because bone density decreases with age, which can result in weakened bones that are more likely to break. In addition to bone density, other age-related factors such as changes in balance and coordination can also contribute to an increased risk of falls and hip fractures.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weakened bones, which can increase the risk of fractures. This condition is more common among women, particularly those who have gone through menopause. Other risk factors for osteoporosis include a family history of the condition, a sedentary lifestyle and certain medical conditions or medications.
While natural factors may affect your bone density, making you more prone to fracture, negligent parties are still accountable for damages if they are responsible for the impact leading to fracture.
What are the most common types of hip fractures, and how are they repaired?
Hip fractures can be categorized based on the location and severity of the injury. The method of repair will depend on your type of hip fracture. The following examples are cited from the Merck Manual.
- Femoral neck fracture: This type of hip fracture occurs in the neck of the femur, beneath the ball joint. This type of fracture is particularly common among older adults and is typically repaired using metal pins to support the femoral head. The pins are inserted through a small incision and guided into the femoral head to stabilize the bone.
- Intertrochanteric fracture: This type of hip fracture occurs in the large bumps of bone below the neck of the femur known as trochanters. These fractures are more common among older adults as well and are typically treated with a sliding compression screw and a metal side plate. In some cases, hip replacement surgery may be necessary depending on the severity of the fracture and the individual’s overall health.
- Hip replacement surgery: This procedure involves the removal of damaged hip joint sections and replacement with metal, ceramic or plastic components. This artificial joint or prosthesis, helps alleviate pain and improve function. Arthritis is the leading cause of hip replacement, recommended when nonsurgical treatments have been ineffective in managing hip pain during daily activities.
Hip repair procedures are designed to preserve the individual’s hip joint and allow for faster recovery compared to hip replacement surgery. However, it is important to note that recovery can still be a lengthy process and may require months of physical therapy and rehabilitation to fully regain mobility and function. The pain and suffering that goes into even a successful hip fracture rehabilitation is significant – and hip replacement implants have been known to fail. If you have suffered one of these devastating injuries be sure to consult with an attorney to see if you are eligible for compensation.
If you or a loved one has suffered a hip fracture due to premises liability, a car accident, a slip and fall or assault, it is important to seek legal counsel from an experienced Vancouver personal injury lawyer. They can help you understand your legal options and pursue compensation for your damages.
At Philbrook Law Offices, we understand the physical, emotional and financial toll that a hip fracture can take on a person and their family. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers has a track record of success representing clients who have been affected by a wide range of injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at one of our two offices in Vancouver and Battle Ground, Washington.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.