Hip Fracture Treatment with Surgical Screws
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, where the socket portion is the pelvic bone and the ball portion is the femur. The ball or “head” of the femur is held together inside the socket so that the hip can function properly. Unfortunately, this means that when force is applied in just the wrong place, the head of the femur may crack, fracture, or break off of the femur bone at the “neck”. This is known as a femoral neck fracture, or a hip fracture. This kind of fracture needs medical attention as soon as possible. One of the most effective surgical repairs for these fractures is through the use of surgical screws.
Causes of Hip Fracture
This specific type of fracture is extremely uncommon in children, and is almost exclusively caused by physical trauma like falling. Elderly patients who have osteoporosis or bone cancer are the most common patients with femoral neck fractures. Another problem that can cause hip fracture is osteopenia, which reduces a person’s bone density. Patients who fall directly onto their hip who have bone problems are more likely to break the femoral neck rather than other healthy patients, who would more likely break the femur in a different place.
Complications of Hip Fracture
If a person does not receive medical treatment in a timely manner, a hip fracture of the femoral neck can cause some very serious problems. A hip fracture can tear surrounding blood vessels, causing internal bleeding. If the femoral head is completely fractured apart from the rest of the femur, the bone begins to die. This condition is known as avascular necrosis. This leads to the eventual complete collapse of the femoral head and disintegration of the hip joint. If the hip fracture is not repaired quickly, these and other complications can occur.
Hip Fracture Repair with Surgical Screws Procedure
Generally for this procedure, the head of the femur has been completely or mostly broken off of the rest of the bone. First the patient is placed under anesthesia, and the area is prepped and cleaned. The surgeon then makes the incision in the leg to directly access the femur. Most of the time, the surgeon needs to carefully realign the bones. This is a very severe break and to heal, it must be aligned as closely as possible. Small wires are inserted through the main portion of the femur, up into the ball portion. These will not go into the joint. The surgeon uses these as guides to create several holes that internally span the length of the upper portion of the femur. These holes will then be filled by long surgical screws. These hold the head of the femur to the neck, and also strengthen the trunk of the femur during the healing process. The incision is then closed and the patient can begin recovery.
Recovery after Hip Fracture Treatment
Many patients can return home a few days after the surgery, but it takes several months for the bones to heal and regain their strength. Most patients take 12-14 weeks before they can get around normally again. Physical therapy can help speed up this process by strengthening the muscles surrounding the injured bones. Unfortunately, for some people, a hip fracture of this magnitude may result in the need for long term care, as many of these patients are elderly and are already experiencing low mobility. In this case, the patient can be made more comfortable through simple, non-exertive exercises and allowing time to heal. Long-term recovery looks different for each patient after hip fracture treatment, and a doctor can always help to determine what will work best for each person.