Hip pain after a falls is worrisome, as this often results in a hip fracture. As the nation’s population ages, the number of injuries resulting from falls is reaching record levels.
More than 2.4 million patients older than 65 years of age required treatment at medical emergency facilities due to falling in 2012, the New York Times reported. Among older adults, falling is the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence and injury-related deaths, according to the National Institutes of Health. From 2002-12, deaths of elderly Americans attributed to falls totaled 201,000.
In countless other cases, people suffered severe pain in their wrists, hips and other joints. A simple misstep can cause a person to lose balance and tumble to the floor. It is so common that the concept has led to famous TV commercial slogan “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. This may result in many types of injuries, including wrist and hip fractures. Seniors are particularly at risk, for a variety of reasons. They tend to have more balance issues, and less strength, than the young. Most importantly, their bones may be vulnerable as a result osteopenia or osteoporosis.
“Balance is a complicated equation involving vision, muscle strength, proprioception (the body’s ability to know where it is in space), and attention. As people age, those elements deteriorate,” the Times explained.The newspaper noted that, according to geriatricians, “some older people possess an exaggerated sense of what they can still do, even as hazards (staircases, throw rugs, slick bathtubs, concrete bumpers in parking lots, tree roots, their own pets) lie in wait.”
About one-quarter of the time, a senior who fractures a hip in a fall dies within a year. Eighty percent of patients are in pain the rest of their lives, with severely limited mobility that costs them their independence and increases their reliance on others.
A recent study indicated that engaging in regular exercise can help anyone, especially the elderly, avoid falling. Those who work out, or at least take daily walks, have better strength and balance. Experts also advise keeping well hydrated to prevent dizziness. Medications for high blood pressure, psychotropic drugs and antidepressants are known to make patients dizzy, increasing the odds of falling.
Dr. Judy Stevens, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Times: “Falls are a very difficult thing, because it’s such a scary idea. People don’t want to hear about it, and people affected don’t want to talk about it.”
Many older adults are afraid of falling, the National Institutes of Health noted, adding: “This fear becomes more common as people age, even among those who haven’t fallen. It may lead older people to avoid activities such as walking, shopping or taking part in social activities.”
Seniors limited by such fears are advised to consult their doctors or other health-care providers. Physical therapy can improve balance and promote confidence in walking ability. Relieving the anxiety allows a person to keep active, maintain health and prevent future falls, according to the NIH.
After falling, even if no injuries are apparent, it is a good idea to see a doctor. Many of the factors that cause falls can be treated or corrected. Falling may be a symptom of a medical issue like diabetes or improper blood pressure. Some people experience sharp drops in blood pressure when they stand up, which results in dizziness. Falls sometimes indicate problems with medications or vision. A doctor might prescribe eyeglasses, physical therapy or the use of walking supports like canes.
Experts suggest making a home safer by getting rid of loose rugs, installing handrails on stairways and in hallways, and providing adequate lighting.If you suffer from hip pain or wrist discomfort contact us at Orthopedic Surgery San Diego for an evaluation.