Sometimes a person breaks a hip first, then they fall. This happens a lot more often than we realize. When the break is just below the ball of the hip, the fracture may have come before the fall. Moreover, that Fragility Fracture may have gradually developed over days or weeks.
How is it possible that a person does not realize that the hip is gradually crumbling? We call it a Stress Fracture when a crack gradually developes. Small cracks gradually getting bigger are usually not recognized until they are completely across the bone and it breaks, causing the patient to fall. Why?
The aching pain of a stress fracture is often too gradual to distinguish from arthritis pain until the break is complete and the whole bone collapses. The best way to see this process is to watch a video of the I-35W bridge collapsing in Minneapolis on 1st August 2007. http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=aaplw&p=i35w+collapse Tiny cracks slowly developed in the steel until one day……..THUD!
How can you detect who is at high Hip Fracture Risk? A very low DXA T-score, especially in the spine, is a good indication. But DXA often fails if the spine is already crumbling or has arthritis. A better indication is Vertebral Fracture Assessment (VFA). Looking at the spine from the side, Vertebral Compression Deformities can indicate crumbling spongy bone in the spine before the spongy bone in the hip also crumbles.
Know where you stand. Get a Complete Bone Health Evaluation. Take Control of your future.
Jay Ginther, MD