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Understanding Hip Fractures

The hip is the largest weight-bearing joint in the body. It’s also a common place for a fracture after a fall—especially in older people. Hip fractures are even more likely in people with osteoporosis (a disease that leads to weakened bones).

Hip joint showing pelvis, head of femur, blood vessels, and femur

A Healthy Hip

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint where the femur (thighbone) joins the pelvis. When the hip is healthy, you can walk, turn, and move without pain. The head or “ball” of the femur (thighbone) fits into a socket in the pelvis. The ball and socket are each covered with smooth cartilage. This allows the ball to glide easily in the socket. Blood vessels supply oxygen and nutrients to keep the hip joint healthy.

Image of hip joint showing transcervical fracture, intertrochanteric fracture and subtrochanteric fracture

A Fractured Hip

The hip can fracture in many places. Most often, the fracture occurs in the upper part of the femur. You can also have more than one type of fracture at a time.

  • A transcervical fracture is a break across the neck of the femur, just under the ball. This type of fracture can interrupt blood flow to the joint.

  • An intertrochanteric fracture is a break down through the top of the femur.

  • A subtrochanteric fracture is a break across the shaft of the femur.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 7/12/2013
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