Health & Medicine

Hip injury incidents increase with age, but you can reduce risk

Dr. Janak Talwalkar
Dr. Janak Talwalkar

As the baby boomer generation ages, orthopaedic surgeons in the United States and Central Kentucky continue to see an increase in the number of patients requiring orthopaedic care.

Unfortunately, as we age, the risk of falling increases and more than 250,000 people in the country will fracture their hip this year alone.

Certainly, the easiest way to treat a hip fracture is to prevent it from ever occurring. There are a variety of things that can be done to reduce this risk for our loved ones, including the following:

▪  Limiting medications that can cause dizziness or sleepiness

▪  Supplementing diets with calcium and vitamin D

▪  Getting screened for osteoporosis

▪  Performing strength and balance exercises regularly

▪  Getting regular eye exams

▪  Undergoing a home safety check

Obviously, no family member ever wants to receive the call informing them that a loved one has fallen and sustained a hip fracture. If that occurs, however, there are some key components to the ensuing care in the hospital you choose that can make a real difference in how well a person recovers.

In addition to an orthopaedic surgeon and an internist, patients benefit when a team of providers, including therapists and nutritionists, contribute to their care.

It also is clear that limiting the use of strong pain medicine improves outcomes for patients with hip fractures. One way this can be done is by performing pain-relieving blocks in the emergency room to alleviate the pain very soon after the fracture is diagnosed.

Getting the necessary surgery done as soon as possible is critical. Patients can then begin working with intensive physical and occupational therapy to avoid some of the possible medical problems, such as pneumonia and blood clots.

Finally, preventing future fractures from occurring and creating a plan to treat patients’ osteoporosis are important for long-term success.

In my practice over the last 10 years, the patients that seem to do the best after these injuries have taken good care of themselves over their lifetime and have a family spokesperson or leader in place to help plan the care for the patient once they come home.

Often, though, the most important factor is having the right family member present throughout their hospitalization and follow-up care to ensure that the above-mentioned components of quality care are carried out.

Dr. Janak Talwalkar, an orthopaedic surgeon with Lexington Orthpaedic Associates, practices at Baptist Health Lexington.