Conditions + Treatments

Hip Fracture | Overview

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If your child or teen has broken his hip, it causes disruption and stress—for your child and the whole family. You’ll have concerns and questions about your child’s pain, treatment, length of recovery, growth plates and many other issues. It may comfort you to know that Boston Children's Hospital is a world leader in orthopedic pediatrics. 

Fractures happen when there’s more force applied to the bone than the bone can absorb. If your child has a fracture, it means that his bone has partially or completely broken. A hip fracture should be treated quickly and correctly — the hip is the body’s connection to the legs and is crucial for movement.

Hip fracture illustrationWhat is a hip fracture?

A hip fracture is a partial or complete break in any of the three bones of the pelvis that make up the hip: the illium (upper part), the ischium (lower part) or the central pubis that joins the ischium on either side. Fractures can also occur where the thigh bone (femur) angles into the hip socket (proximal femur fracture), or in the socket (acetabulum) where the thigh bone rotates. Hip fractures are common in the elderly, and rare in children because a child's bones are designed to absorb more force.

What is a hip joint?

The hip joint is one of the body's most reliable structures, providing movement and support without pain or problems in most people for a lifetime. The hip's simple ball-and-socket arrangement—with the ball-shaped head of the thigh bone rotating inside a cup-shaped socket called the acetabulum—usually works well with amazingly little friction and little or no wear.

The well-fitting surfaces of the head of the thigh bone and the acetabulum, which face each other, are lined with a layer of cartilage, lubricated by a thin film of fluid. Friction inside a normal hip is less than one-tenth that of ice gliding on ice.

If you think your child has broken his hip, you should take him to the Emergency Room.
If you're waiting to see your child's doctor, it may help to use self-care first aid remedies to reduce swelling and pain:

Rest: Make sure he doesn’t exert his hip without support; he can use crutches or a cane, if it helps.

Wrap a towel around ice cubes, an ice pack or a frozen food package to ice the bone for 20 minutes at a time, at two-hour intervals.

Note: If your child has an open (compound) fracture (the bone is visible through the skin), it’s an emergency. Call 911 immediately.

Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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