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Hip Fracture in Children

  • We treat children's hips from birth through childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. Our decades of experience following our patients into adulthood have taught us that kids' hip problems affect adult hip problems. Our goal is to do everything possible for our patients so that the hip will do fine for a lifetime.

    –Michael B. Millis, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery, Boston Children's Hospital

    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. We specialize in innovative, family-centered care that supports your child and family every step of the way.

    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.

    • The most common causes of hip fractures in children are car and bike accidents.
    • Hip fractures in teens are commonly due to sports injuries.
    • Symptoms can include intense pain, swelling, deformity and/or difficulty moving the area.
    • When a hip is fractured, other structures housed by the pelvic bones can get injured, too. These can include:
      • the lower portion of the intestines and rectum
      • the urinary bladder and the reproductive organs
    • Other injuries commonly associated with hip fractures include head injuries and additional fractures
    • Children’s bones heal more quickly than those of adults. Because they heal quickly, they need prompt medical attention to ensure they heal correctly.
    • Doctors must account for growth plates in diagnosing and treating kids’ broken bones.
    • In an open (compound) hip fracture, the bone is visible through the skin; or a deep wound exposes the bone through the skin, increasing the risk of infection.
       

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

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches a hip fracture

    While it’s relatively rare for children to have hip fractures, it does happen. And there are important differences in the growing bodies of children, adolescents and young adults that can make individual treatment tricky. Boston Children's experts provide diagnostics and treatments that are tailored to the special needs of young patients from different age groups.

    Whether your child’s hip fracture needs surgery, casting or just observation—you can have peace of mind knowing that the experts in Boston Children’s Orthopedic Center have treated thousands of children with conditions that few pediatric hospitals have seen. As a result, we can provide expert diagnosis, treatment and care for every type, complexity and severity of hip fracture.

    Our center is known for clinical innovation, research and leadership. We offer the most advanced diagnostics and treatments—several of which were pioneered and developed by our own researchers and clinicians.

    One of the first programs. Our Orthopedic Center is one of the world’s first comprehensive pediatric orthopedic programs, and today is the largest pediatric orthopedic surgery center in the United States, performing more than 6,000 surgical procedures each year. Our program, ranked among the top in the country by U.S.News & World Report, is the nation’s preeminent care center for children and young adults with post-traumatic, developmental, congenital and neuromuscular problems of the musculoskeletal system.

    Orthopedic care in lots of places

    Boston Children’s physicians provides orthopedic care—for fractures and other bone problems—at Children’s locations in Lexington, Peabody and Waltham, as well as at our main campus in Boston. Our physicians see patients at Boston Children's Physicians South in Weymouth.

    If you come from far away, we can help

    As an international pediatric orthopedics center, we care for young patients from all over the world. Our International Center assists families residing outside the United States: We facilitate the medical review of patient records; coordinate appointment scheduling; and help families with customs and immigration, transportation, hotel and housing accommodations.

    Hip fracture: Reviewed by Michael B. Millis, MD
    © Boston Children's Hospital, 2011

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