Hip fractures are common injuries after a front end car accident. This is because the forces involved in this type of accident can push up the leg to the hip and break the hip near the pelvis. There are several forms of hip fracture that can happen. Extracapsular fractures occur in such a way that the blood supply to the hip is not affected. Doctors can repair this type of hip fracture by opening the patient up and replacing the head of the femur or using plates and screws to hold the ends of the hip joint together until the hip heals on its own.
There is also the possibility of an intracapsular fracture. They involve the femoral neck and can damage the blood supply to the area. This can result in avascular necrosis or loss of circulation to the femoral neck. Such hip fractures need complete replacement of the damaged femoral head.
Because of the forces of the accident, the femoral head can be pushed up through the acetabulum, essentially fracturing the acetabulum. The acetabulum is the socket part of the joint and is part of the pelvic bone. This may be healed conservatively. Alternatively, the acetabulum can be cut out and replaced with an artificial socket. It is often done at the same time as an artificial femoral neck is placed so that the two are well fit together.
When someone sustains a hip fracture from a front end motor vehicle accident, they often have immediate hip pain and an inability to walk on the affected leg. After surgery to correct the fracture or after replacement of the affected part of the femur, the patient begins physical therapy and will be able to walk on the affected limb with a walker or cane.
The main signs and symptoms of a hip fracture include inability to move the affected limb, severe pain in the groin area or hip area, stiffness and increased bruising or swelling in the area of the groin or hip, a shorter leg on the side off the injury, and an outward turn to the hip on the injured side. The hip is externally rotated, in other words.
One study looked at the incidence and frequency of hip fractures in front end accidents. Such fractures occur with some regularity because of the forces involved in such accidents. They looked at the potential for long term disability following these types of crashes. They felt that, of the parts of the leg involved in the crash, the hip joint is the weakest point and is therefore at the highest likelihood of being fractured.
While younger people can sustain a hip fracture, it is the older person who has a greater risk of sustaining this type of fracture in an accident. They often have osteoporosis which makes the fracture of bones much more likely. In non car accident situations, they are more likely to fall and to trip on things due to poor vision and poor balance.