More than 250,000 adults over 65 are hospitalized for hip fractures every year. Hip injuries are most often caused by falls, but there are many risk factors and conditions that can make an individual more likely to sustain a hip fracture.
Women are more likely than men to sustain a hip fracture—roughly 75 percent of these injuries occur in women. This is partly due to the fact that, along with the drop in estrogen levels during menopause, women lose bone density at a faster rate than men.
Chronic medical illnesses can cause fragile bones, increasing one’s risk for hip injury and fractures. Endocrine conditions (like an overactive thyroid) and intestinal disorders (which can affect the body’s absorption of vitamin D and calcium) can weaken bones.
Some medications, like prednisone, can make bones more fragile over a long period of time. Medications with dizzying side effects could increase an individual’s chance of falling and sustaining a hip fracture.
Calcium and vitamin D are especially important in an adolescent diet, but when children do not get enough of these, they are at a greater risk of fracture later in life. Eating disorders can also deprive the body of essential nutrients, causing damage to bones.
Individuals who do not regularly participate in weight-bearing exercises may have a lower bone density. Those with poor balance will be less able to catch themselves if they begin to trip or fall.
You can’t control all risk factors, but there are things you can do to help prevent hip fractures. Understand the side effects of your medication, and discuss any concerns with your doctor. Your doctor can also help evaluate your overall risk for falls. Make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D, whether this is through food or supplements. Last but not least, perform strengthening and balance exercises that will better defend you against fractures.