Topic Overview

In older adults, hip fractures are usually caused by a
fall. Even a slight fall can sometimes cause a fracture in a weakened hipbone.
Children and young adults are more likely to break a hip because of a bike or
car accident or a sports injury.

Falls cause more
fractures-including hip fractures-as people age because, starting at about age
30, bone begins to be reabsorbed by the body faster than it is replaced. Over
time, it naturally gets thinner (less dense), weaker, and breaks more easily.
If bones thin a certain amount, you are said to have
osteoporosis. Both osteoporosis and hip fracture
affect women more often than men, because men have higher bone density than
women and because of the decrease in the hormone
estrogen in women after
menopause. Having lower levels of estrogen speeds up
bone loss and results in weakened bones. Lower levels of testosterone in men
can also speed up bone loss.

Although men are also at risk for hip
fracture as they age, women have lower bone density to begin with, more bone
loss after middle age, and live longer than men. As a result, most hip fractures occur in women.

Some
medicines are related to bone loss or to fractures. These include:

  • Antacids that contain aluminum.
  • Corticosteroids used to treat conditions such as
    asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
    (COPD).
  • Antidepressant medicines called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

Other
things that increase the risk for hip fracture include:

  • Your family history (heredity). Being thin or
    tall, or having family members who had fractures later in life increases your
    risk.
  • Race. White and Asian people have a higher risk of
    osteoporosis. Black people have a lower risk.
    Osteoporosis raises the risk of a fracture if you fall, so the risk of hip
    fracture is also higher in whites and Asians.
  • Poor eating habits.
    Eat a nutritious diet that includes adequate
    amounts of calcium and vitamin D. Both are needed for building healthy,
    strong bones.
  • Smoking. Smoking puts you at a higher risk for osteoporosis and
    increases the rate of bone thinning after it starts.
  • Drinking
    alcohol. Don’t drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day if you are a man, or 1
    alcohol drink a day if you are a woman. Drinking more than this puts you at
    higher risk for osteoporosis. Alcohol use also raises your risk of falling and
    breaking a bone. See pictures of standard alcoholic drinks.
  • Not being active. Moderate amounts of
    weight-bearing exercise, such as walking and dancing, can help keep bones
    strong.
  • Having certain medical problems. Some medical conditions, such as
    Ménière’s disease, can cause problems with balance or dizziness. Other
    conditions such as arthritis can interfere with your ability to be steady as
    you walk and move.
  • Drug interactions. Sometimes one medicine you
    are taking changes the action of another medicine, or the drugs act together to
    create unexpected side effects. These can include dizziness or blurred vision
    that make falls more likely.

Research also shows that if you have had a spine fracture or,
in men, a Colles fracture of the wrist, you have an increased
chance of hip fracture.footnote 1

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Haentjens P, et al. (2003). Colles fracture, spine fracture, and subsequent risk of hip fracture in men and women: A meta-analysis. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 85-A(10): 1936-1943.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kenneth J. Koval, MD – Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma

Current as ofMarch 21, 2017