Besides pain, what happens if I never have the broken hip fixed?

Chuckmckenna asked...

I am 57 and broke my hip several years ago. I have never had it fixed. I am in the roofing business and it is very difficult to walk, especially if I was on the roof for a long time in a work day. Besides pain, what happens if I never have it fixed? If feels like a dry ball joint socket now and clicks in some positions. Any damage if I don't fix it?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Hip fractures in young people usually occur after an injury, like a car accident or falling off a roof. Because of the issues with not being able to bear weight or walk after most hip fractures, treatment almost always is surgical repair. However, in some cases, such as a stress fracture of the femur, there could have been the option to not do surgery. When you broke your hip, I am sure that you saw an orthopedic doctor who told you your options and what would happen if you chose not to have surgery. For some reason you decided not to fix it, although you don't say why in your letter.

Since I don't know exactly where or how you broke your hip (femur), it is difficult for me to say exactly what kind of damage you could do if it is never repaired. But I want you to think of this: right now, you are only 57, and you are having pain and crepitus (clicks) on a daily basis. This would indicate to me that you already have arthritis/damage from not getting the hip fixed. As you age, I think that your symptoms would only get worse. Do you really want to be 70 and forced to have surgery because you cannot walk anymore or have horrible pain? Don't you think it would be easier to have surgery now, as a young man, rather than in your 70's or 80's? You really have to ask yourself why are you not getting it done now. I do understand that surgery can be scary, but I also think that there are real possibilities that you may be in pain and not able to walk someday.

I would recommend that you schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and go over your options. They would be able to tell you better than I exactly what they expect for your hip problem as you age. I wish you luck!