Uncommon Hip Fractures: The Acetabular Fracture

Hip injuries are common in high-impact sports such as football. Yet, most people don't know these injuries can afflict athletes in other sports, as well. Former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt's battle with hip pain and injury is well documented.

In tennis, if a player trips and falls, or runs into the wall or net, even the constant stress of sprinting and planting the foot to stop, can cause injury to the hip and wear down the joints. The same could be true for basketball or baseball. Eventually, such occurrences can cause an injury of some type, possibly a fracture, absent good alignment and muscle strength of the lower limbs.

The hip joint consists of the ball, the top of the femur, or thigh bone, and the acetabulum, the socket, which is part of the hip bone. Most hip fractures are the result of the ball being fractured or cracked. Surgery may be required to handle this type of injury. Cases of acetabular fractures have also been reported. An acetabular fracture is when the socket is cracked or fractured. This injury is far less common, and sometimes goes undiagnosed causing greater problems down the road.

A situation of this happening was described recently in the Journal of Medical Case Reports. A female squash player, with no history of fall or injury, sustained an acetabular fracture. When the 47-year-old patient lunged for a corner shot, acute hip pain set in suddenly. She was in fit condition, and denied any previous hip injury or pain. An active club player for four years, her level of physical activity had not changed recently. After the initial examination, a CT scan was performed and a minimally displaced fracture of the acetabulum was discovered. After immobilization for a week, and lengthy rehabilitation and monitoring, pain free movement of the hip was regained. The patient, however, has not yet returned to the squash court. Doctors concluded that acute hip pain following a high impact sport or activity, needs to be assessed as a possible joint injury rather than just soft tissue damage.

There are many ways to help prevent this type of injury from occurring. Some of these are:

.   Slow bone-loss by ensuring adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D are in the diet.
.   Continue to exercise so that strong bones and muscles are built. This will also aid in balance and minimize falling.
.   Smoking and excessive drinking reduces bone density, along with causing other health problems, so don't do it.
.   Make sure to have proper shoes that are in good condition to reduce chances of slipping and falling.

There are numerous other methods to help in the prevention of hip injury. The main thing is not to underestimate any type of pain, especially acute pain, as being soft tissue damage when getting a diagnosis. A fracture could be an underlying cause, so be sure.

If you suspect that you have a hip injury, it is critical to seek the urgent consultation of a local sports injuries doctor for appropriate care. To locate a top doctor or physical therapist in your area, please visit our Find a Sports Medicine Doctor or Physical Therapist Near You section.

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Reference: Acute Isolated Acetabular Fracture Following a Game of Squash: A Case Report, Patel, N., Trehan, R.K., Journal of Medical Case Reports, 1:156, November 28, 2007.

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