A crack in the socket portion of the “ball-and-socket” hip joint is referred as an acetabular fracture. They are rare and occur less frequently than the femoral head or upper femur fractures. These fractures are often the result of a high-impact event such as a car collision. In some cases, an acetabular fracture can occur from falling from the standing position, particularly with the elderly.
Signs and Symptoms
This type of fracture is always painful, and the pain can worsen with the slightest movement. The patient will feel weakness and numbness if the nerve has been damaged by the injury. There is a chance that a patient can feel a tingling sensation down the leg as well.
Causes of Acetabular Fracture
- It is caused due to high-energy impact, ie. when a force drives the head of the femur against the acetabulum. It can depend upon the direction of the force as sometimes the head of the femur is pushed out of the hip socket. If this happens then the injury is hip dislocation
- Acetabular fractures are also the result of insufficient bone strength, as weaker bones are a common risk factor in older people. Those whose bones have become weakened by osteoporosis are more prone to getting this fracture.
There are two types of treatment, nonsurgical and surgical. Your doctor will consider many factors when planning your treatment.
Non-Surgical Treatment: If the bones are not displaced then the nonsurgical treatment will be recommended. It would include medications to relieve pain and reduce the risk of blood clots that can form in the veins of the leg. If the ball of the hip is popping out or sliding within the socket, then this is the situation of joint instability. In this case, the doctor may restrict the position of the hip, and you may need a knee immobilizer or abduction pillow to maintain the restriction. In some cases, your doctor may ask you to use a walker or crutch for up to three months or until the bones are completely healed.
Surgical Treatment: Acetabular fracture damage to the cartilage of the bone is generally the cause of surgical treatment. The main goal of the surgical treatment is to restore a smooth hip surface. The doctor may delay the surgery for a few days to make sure the overall condition of the patient is stable.
- If the patient has undergone surgery the doctor will work to reduce the pain and will prescribe medicine for short-term pain relief.
- In some cases, a doctor will recommend using a walker for a period of time, and full weight bearing will not be allowed as bones take about four months to heal. It is crucial to follow the instruction of the doctor as walking on the injured leg before healing can lead to unevenness in the hip socket.
- In some cases, a doctor will encourage early movement and may suggest a physical therapist who will assist in safe motions to aid recovery.
- For those who are involved in sports activities, their doctor will tell them when it is safe to start low-impact activities. However, it often takes six to twelve months to return to high-impact sports activities.