A hip fracture is one of the most devastating and prevalent types of orthopedic injuries in the United States, especially for the elderly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 250,000 people age 65 or older are hospitalized for hip fractures every year. The long-term consequences of a broken hip can be significant. Recovery can be difficult, and many patients suffer limited mobility and independence during this time.
Women break their hips more often than men — it’s roughly a 75-25 split — but anyone with decreased bone strength is susceptible to fractures.
Fortunately, it’s possible to minimize the risk of hip fractures by taking a few simple precautions.
Make Your Home Safer to Prevent Hip Fractures
CDC data shows that 95 percent of hip fractures are the result of a fall. And as most falls occur in the home, one of the best ways to prevent a broken hip is to make safety a priority.
Start by keeping your floors clear of clutter and removing objects you or a loved one could trip over. Consider the lighting in your home also. You can improve the visibility in rooms and hallways by adding more lights or switching to brighter bulbs. Overhead light provides the safest level of illumination for senior mobility.
To prevent bathroom falls, install grab bars or handles inside and outside of your tub or shower, as well as next to your toilet. And because falls are more likely to occur on steps or stairs, install railings on both sides of all stairways.
Prevent Hip Fractures with Exercise
Moderate exercise is a great way keep your hips healthy, as it helps maintain your muscle strength, slows bone loss and improves balance and coordination.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends hiking, jogging, stair-climbing, swimming, dancing and weight training exercises. Weight-bearing exercises, practiced in moderation and with the advice of your doctor, are extremely effective for preserving orthopedic health and avoiding injury.
Balance training exercises also can help decrease falls and avoid broken hips. Tai chi, yoga and Pilates programs are ideal for improving your balance. Or try working out using stability balls, foam rollers or balance boards.
Before beginning any new exercise program, it is wise to check with your doctor or orthopedic surgeon to make sure your chosen exercises will be safe for you. Learning under the guidance of a trainer will help ensure that you are performing your exercises correctly and safely.
Be sure that your workout room is equipped with grab bars, especially if you plan to do balance training. Doctors also advise patients never to work out alone, unless you have an emergency call device or another means for summoning help if you need it.
Schedule Periodic Health Checks to Prevent Hip Fractures
Your doctor or orthopedic surgeon can most accurately evaluate your risk for falling, and offer specific suggestions to avoid suffering a broken hip and related injuries.
If your medicines make you dizzy or sleepy, for example, adjustments may be made so that you no longer have these side effects. A screening for osteoporosis and bone density also may be ordered so that, if necessary, you can begin treatment to prevent further bone loss.
Don’t forget to schedule regular eye examinations. Your vision can change over time, and you may need to update your eyeglasses prescription. Your doctor also may suggest switching out your bifocals or progressive lenses for a pair with only your distance prescription.
Walking around with bifocals or progressives can be hazardous, as these lenses distort actual distance.
The orthopedic professionals of Steward Health Care: Centers of Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, located in West Jordan, Utah, provide comprehensive care and treatment for orthopedic and sports-related injuries. Contact our office today to schedule your health evaluation and learn more about how to prevent hip fractures.