WPS Health Insurance Blog

What you should know about senior citizen hip injuries

Posted by Ryan Kanable

Dec 10, 2013 10:00:00 AM

Today, Your Health Matters shares a guest blog from writers at Drugwatch.com.

hip injuryHip pain in seniors is not unusual, unfortunately, and it has many potential sources. The most common problems are the result of injuries or illnesses. Injuries can come from playing sports, including running; repetitive motion and overuse; and falls or accidents.

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, meaning the thigh bone, which is shaped like a ball at the top, meets the cup-shaped pelvic bone. These parts work well together, keeping the human body steady, until something happens to upset the balance.

Minor hip injuries

Some of the most common injuries are a sprain of the ligaments or a strain of the muscles or tendons surrounding the hip. Strains and sprains occur after falling or twisting the wrong way, though a sprain is a result of an immediate event and a strain can happen suddenly or over time.

Both injuries cause pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the troubled area. Doctors recommend that seniors ice the injured area while resting, wear a bandage for support and compression, and take over-the-counter pain medication. If a sprain or strain does not heal, consult your doctor for further treatment.

Bursitis is another painful hip injury. With bursitis, inflammation surrounds the joint, making it painful to move. The tenderness is often the result of arthritis or repetitive movements that cause stress on the area.

Bursitis also is treated with rest, icing the painful area, and over-the-counter medicines. If those treatments do not ease the swelling, your doctor may try physical therapy or steroid injections.

Serious hip injuries

Two types of hip injuries require immediate medical attention: dislocations and fractures.

A dislocation forces the hip bones out of their normal positions and is quite painful. You won’t be able to move the joint, and treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Your doctor will try to reposition the bones and then use a splint or sling to support the joint.

You will be given pain medication and likely will need rehabilitation afterward. Dislocations are most often the result of a fall or blow, including those from sports.

The most severe trauma is a fracture, or broken bone. This hip injury can occur after a car accident, an incident during a sports event, or a fall when the bones are weakened. (Falls are common among seniors.) If the bone breaks the skin, it is called a compound fracture.

A very small crack in the bone, or stress fracture, usually is the result of overuse.

Hip fractures require immediate medical attention and may necessitate a cast or even surgery with plates and pins to keep the bone stable. If your fracture is not compound, which would be clearly seen, other symptoms include intense pain, numbness and tingling, the leg or hip out of place, inability to use your leg, and swelling or bruising.

Hip replacement

If you have had multiple hip injuries or continue to suffer from the nagging pain of old injuries or arthritis, your doctor may recommend hip replacement. Although this procedure has helped millions of patients, seniors should be aware of possible complications.

Doctors will watch for complications like infection and blood clots after hip replacement surgery. Some problems may stem from the type of implant that is used.

In August 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, recalled 93,000 defective ASR hip implants because of early failure rates. The devices included in the recall are the ASR XL Acetabular System, a socket used in total hip replacement surgeries, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, a partial hip replacement used to preserve the bone.

Researchers have linked such metal-on-metal hip implants to serious complications, including metal poisoning. Many patients who received an ASR implant were forced to undergo a second surgery to replace the hip. Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 10,000 lawsuits as a result.

Your doctor can help you choose the safest implant, and let you know which complications to watch out for.

For more information on hip replacements, visit Drugwatch.com.

Topics: Wellness, Seniors