Hip Fractures

Xray of a fractured neck of femur
Xray of a fractured neck of femur

Risk Factors

A combination of factors may increase your risk of a hip fracture, including:

  • Age. The rate of hip fractures increases substantially with age. As you age, your bone density decreases, your vision and sense of balance decline, and your reaction time slows. If you're inactive, your muscles tend to weaken as you age. All of these factors combined can increase your risk of a hip fracture. Almost 9 out of 10 hip fractures occur in people older than age 65.
  • Gender. About 80 percent of hip fractures occur in women. Women lose bone density at a faster rate than men do. The drop in estrogen levels that occurs with menopause accelerates bone loss, increasing the risk of hip fractures as a woman moves beyond menopause. However, men also can develop dangerously low levels of bone density.
  • Chronic medical conditions. Osteoporosis is the most significant and well-known risk factor for hip fracture, but other medical conditions may increase your risk of bone fragility. These include endocrine disorders, such as an overactive thyroid, and intestinal disorders, which may reduce your absorption of vitamin D and calcium.
  • Certain medications. Some drugs, typically those used for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and asthma, have a gradual effect on your bone health when you take them long-term.
  • Nutritional problems. Lack of calcium and vitamin D in your diet when you're young lowers your peak bone mass and increases your risk of fracture later in life. Serious eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, can damage your skeleton by depriving your body of essential nutrients needed for bone building.
  • Physical inactivity. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, help strengthen bones and muscles, making falls and fractures less likely. If you don't regularly participate in weight-bearing exercise, you may have lower bone density and weaker bones. Additionally, prolonged bed rest or immobility can lead to bone loss.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use. Smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol can interfere with the normal processes of bone building and remodelling, resulting in bone loss.
9 August, 2012