A hip stress fracture is considered as a critical injury to the ball of the ball-and-socket hip joint. This type of fracture typically develops due to engaging in overuse activities. Hip stress fractures are typically caused by the following:
- High-impact injury can cause the bone to break due to the force acting on the bone. These injuries include vehicular accidents, sports injuries and falls.
- Pathologic injuries such as a pathologic fracture involve abnormal weakening of the bone due to some issues. The causes of pathologic fractures include tumors, osteoporosis and infections.
- Stress injuries such as stress fractures are caused by constant micro-trauma to the bone. After some time, the body could no longer adapt to the forces acting on the bone and a fracture eventually develops.
When it comes to hip stress fractures, constant injury to the bone will eventually lead to failure of the bone or fracture. Essentially, bone undergoes a constant cycle of turnover in which the old bone is reabsorbed and new bone is produced. In case the process cannot keep up, the bone will surely fracture.
Why is a hip stress fracture a serious injury?
After sustaining a stress fracture, the bones often maintain their proper alignment. In reality, these fractures are not even visible sometimes, especially during the early stages on an X-ray.
On the other hand, if the hip stress fracture is not treated, the bone continues to weaken and the fracture can displace or cause the bones to move out of proper alignment.
Remember that hip stress fractures are troublesome if they displace. Due to the delicate blood supply to the bone of the hip, a fracture can lead to injury to this blood supply which leads to a condition called as hip osteonecrosis.
Indications of a hip stress fracture
An individual with a hip stress fracture will complain of an aching groin pain that disrupts him/her during activity and relieved with rest. The symptoms are usually noted after a recent increase in the level of activity such as in cases when the running mileage is increased.
Once a hip stress fracture is suspected, an X-ray is requested. Even though some cases of hip stress fractures can be seen on an X-ray, some results can appear normal. In case the injury is still suspected, a bone scan or MRI can be performed to assess for a stress fracture.
Management of hip stress fractures
Hip stress fractures require immediate modification of the activity level so that the individual will not experience discomfort or pain. Pain medications are not recommended right away since these can mask the symptoms that are vital during the assessment of a doctor.
If the individual experiences pain when running, the activity should be stopped. In case the pain occurs while walking, crutches should be used. Always bear in mind that the individual should stay below the level of pain. If the individual avoids activities that aggravate the symptoms, it is often possible that the hip stress fracture can heal without surgery.
Surgery is a treatment option if there is the risk for displacement. The displacement of a hip stress fracture can cause serious implications for the long-term health of the individual. In case there are issues regarding the possibility of displacement, surgery must be carried out to steady the bone. These stress fractures can occur in parts of the femoral neck that are more or less suitable to undergo prompt healing. In such cases, the doctor might recommend surgery.