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Taipei City Hospital


Is Hip Fracture a Silent Killer of the Elderly?

The aging population has been increasing globally and Taiwan is no exception. The hip fracture rate in Taiwan ranks first among all Chinese regions. According to the data from National Health Insurance, about 5,000 males and 7,000 females aged above 65 suffer from hip fractures every year. About 30% of elderly people above 65 years old have taken a fall within the past year, and 50% of these people will fall again; the percentage for those aged above 80 is as high as 50%. About 10-15% of falling cases result in fractures, and only one third are able to make a full recovery.

Yang Zong-ying, attending doctor of the Orthopaedics Department at Yangming Branch of Taipei City Hospital, pointed out that hip fracture refers to the fracture of the femoral neck, intertrochanteric fracture or fracture at the bottom of the greater trochanter. When hip fracture occurs, patients feel pain in the groin, thigh, or hip; the affected limbs will not be able to withstand heavy weight or movement, and will appear shorter or everted, severely affecting their daily life.

Physicians will determine the treatment method according to the patients’ condition, such as their age and health conditions, as well as the duration after fracture and the fracture type. Except for those with high operation risk, hip fracture patients should receive surgical treatment as soon as possible to facilitate early exercise rehabilitation and avoid complications. There are usually two surgical methods: internal fixation using bone nails to immobilize the fracture, and artificial joint replacement.

Yang Zong-ying reminded us that prevention is better than a cure. To prevent falls and fractures, patients should pay attention to personal health care, take medication as advised by the doctor, correct sensory disturbance, change living habits, improve living and public environments and install protective facilities. Furthermore, they should undergo evaluation and treatment for osteoporosis, and take supplements to get enough calcium and Vitamin D. Medication can be used if deemed necessary to avoid continual bone loss. Exercise and appropriate exposure to sunlight are also effective measures to prevent accidental injury and bone fractures.