Patients with hip fracture typically present to the emergency department or their physician's office after a fall. They are often unable to walk, and they may exhibit shortening and external rotation of the affected limb. Frequently, they have hip pain. In some instances, however, patients with hip fracture may complain only of vague pain in their buttocks, knees, thighs, groin, or back. Their ability to walk may be unaffected, and initial radiographic findings may be indeterminate. In these patients, additional studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging or bone scanning, may be necessary to confirm the presence of hip fracture. A high index of suspicion often is required for prompt diagnosis and treatment of an occult hip fracture. Even when a patient is able to walk and has no documented trauma, localized hip pain, or typical shortening and malrotation deformity, the family physician should be alert to the possibility of hip fracture, particularly in a patient who is older than 65 years, presents with nonspecific leg discomfort, and complains of difficulty bearing weight on the affected limb. A heightened suspicion for hip fracture should lead to further diagnostic evaluation, especially if the patient has additional risk factors, such as use of a complicated drug regimen, impaired vision, physical or neurologic impairment, or comorbid condition (e.g., osteoporosis, malignancy). When hip fracture is detected early, appropriate treatment can minimize morbidity and mortality and prevent the rapid decline in quality of life that often is associated with this injury.





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