A hip fracture is a serious injury, particularly if you’re older, and complications can be life-threatening. Most hip fractures occur in people older than 65, with the risk increasing most rapidly after age 80.

Older people are at higher risk of hip fracture because bones tend to weaken with age. This bone weakening is called osteoporosis. Multiple medications, poor vision and balance problems also make older people more likely to trip and fall – one of the most common causes of hip fracture.

Over the last 30 years in Singapore, cases of hip fractures have increased 5 times in women aged 50 and above, and 1.5 times in men of the same age group. Studies have shown that 1 in every 5 people with osteoporotic hip fracture died within a year. Therefore, it is important to know more about your bones to protect your bone health.

 

Signs and Symptoms :

Signs and symptoms of a hip fracture may include:

  • Inability to move immediately after a fall
  • Severe pain in your hip or groin
  • Inability to put weight on your leg on the side of your injured hip
  • Stiffness, bruising and swelling in and around your hip area
  • Shorter leg on the side of your injured hip
  • Turning outward of your leg on the side of your injured hip

 

Causes:

Age.  The rate of hip fractures increases substantially with age. As you age, your bone density and muscle mass both decrease. Older age may also bring vision and balance problems, along with slower reaction time to avoid falling when you feel unsteady. If you’re inactive, your muscles tend to weaken even more as you age. All of these factors combined can increase your risk of a hip fracture.

Your sex.  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. However, men also can develop dangerously low levels of bone density.

Chronic medical conditions. Osteoporosis is the most powerful risk factor for  hip fracture,   but other medical conditions may lead to fragile bones. These include endocrine disorders, such as an overactive thyroid, and intestinal disorders, which may reduce your absorption of vitamin D and calcium.

Certain medications.  Cortisone medications, such as prednisone, can weaken bone if you take them long term. In some cases, certain drugs or the combination of medications can make you dizzy and more prone to falling.

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.

Tobacco and alcohol use.  Smoking and drinking alcohol can interfere with the normal processes of bone building and remodeling, resulting in bone loss.

 

Prevention:

Get the daily recommended amounts of calcium and vitamin D.  The current dietary recommendation for calcium intake in Singapore is 800 mg/day. According to the recent National Nutrition Survey in 2004, the average daily calcium intake of a Singaporean is 627 mg.

Start exercising today.  Regular exercise helps to build stronger and denser bones, and weight-bearing (especially resistance training) exercises are important for building and maintaining bone density.

Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol.  The chemicals in cigarettes are bad for your bone cells and especially in women, smoking can prevent oestrogen from protecting the bones. Excessive drinking can also reduce bone formation.

Reduce intake of caffeine.  Caffeine in coffee, tea and some soft drinks may decrease calcium absorption. Try to maintain low daily intake of drinks with caffeine, and offset the calcium lost by increasing your calcium intake.

Say ‘no’ to salty snacks.   Eating too much sodium can cause bone loss. Try to reduce the amount of salty snacks and processed foods in your diet, and refrain from adding that extra dash of salt in your cooking.

 

* Source: Health Promotion Board

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