Three Types of Hip Fractures & Treatments

Most often, hip fractures are the result of a fall or other impact to the hip. Our team of hip surgeons diagnose hip conditions and prescribe effective treatment plans designed to fit our patients’ needs and goals, whether that involves surgical or occasionally non-surgical treatment. Dr. Edward Sparling, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and hip specialist, explains how hip fractures are treated below.

How are Hip Fractures Treated?

“The treatment of hip fractures depends on the severity and location of the break in the upper section of the femur, also known as the thighbone,” says Sparling.

To determine the type of surgery needed to treat a hip fracture, surgeons must also consider other bones and tissues that may have been affected from the fracture.

Like with any surgery, Rebound hip specialists first assess the patient’s:

  • Type of hip fracture
  • Medical history
  • Current overall health and ability to tolerate surgery
  • Pain level in the hip with attempts at mobility
  • Risks associated with anesthesia
  • Risks associated with surgery

Three Types of Hip Fractures

The three most common types of hip fractures are:

  • Intracapsular Fractures – break occurs below the ball or in the neck of the femur
  • Intertrochanteric Fractures – break occurs between the greater trochanter and lesser trochanter
  • Subtrochanteric Fractures – break occurs below the lesser trochanter or further down the femur

“Although hip fractures are categorized in the three levels above, extreme cases can involve fractures in multiple areas of the hip,” says Sparling.

Types of Hip Fracture Treatment

“When left untreated, hip fractures cause pain and immobility resulting in serious health problems, particularly if a patient is older,” says Sparling. “It is best to visit with a doctor immediately if you believe you’ve broken a hip. Surgery is typically the best method of treatment for hip fractures, but the type of surgery needed depends on the type of fracture.”

Intracapsular Fracture Repair

“With intracapsular fractures, our focus is typically to repair the fracture with multiple screws or one large compression hip screw,” says Sparling. “With older patients with displaced fractures which have a higher likelihood of damaging the blood supply to the head of the femur, we usually recommend a replacement surgery.”

Depending on the age and activity level of the patient, a Rebound surgeon may recommend hemiarthroplasty or a total hip replacement.

“Hemiarthroplasty involves replacing the head of the femur,” says Sparling. “Whereas, a total hip replacement involves replacing the head of the femur and the acetabulum. We often refer to this as replacing the ball and socket.”

Intertrochanteric Fracture Repair

“To repair an intertrochanteric fracture, we use either an intramedullary nail or compression hip screw,” says Sparling. “With the nail method, the nail is passed into the marrow canal of the bone, and a lag screw is put through the nail. The lag screw holds the head and neck of the femur in position as it heals.”

“Using a compression hip screw also involves the use of a lag screw, in addition to bone screws and a plate,” says Sparling. “First, the lag screw is inserted into the neck and ball of the femur. Next, a side plate is attached to the femur, then fits over the screw and again holds the head and neck in position at they heal.”

Subtrochanteric Fracture Repair

“The primary instrument used in repairing subtrochanteric fractures is a long intramedullary nail,” says Sparling. “The nail is usually accompanied by multiple screws or a larger lag screw. Sometimes, interlocking screws help stabilize the bones. These are typically placed at the end of the intramedullary nail.”

If you’ve experienced a fall or impact to the hip, or are at risk of hip fracture, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-REBOUND or request an appointment online.


Rebound Hip Resources:

Rebound Hip Surgery Team & Services

Hip Replacement: How to Prepare and What to Expect

Hip Bursitis vs. Hip Osteoarthritis: How to Know the Difference

Related Hip Resources:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) – Hip Fractures

U.S. National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health (NIH) – Hip Fracture Surgery