For most of us, a stumble is simply embarrassing. But for older people and others with weakened bones, falls can result in serious injuries, such as hip fractures. Falling from a standing height \u2014 such as tripping over a rug, slipping on an icy sidewalk, or just losing your balance \u2014 is the most common cause of these hip fractures in the elderly, as well as those with osteoporosis or osteogenesis imperfecta. That’s a problem, because fractures of the hip and other bones can have severe \u2014 even life-threatening \u2014 consequences.\nTypes of Hip Fractures\nThere are two main types of hip fractures, which depend on the area of the femur (thigh bone) that is injured:\n\nIntracapsular hip fracture\nIntertrochanteric hip fracture\n\nAn intracapsular fracture occurs at the top of the femur, while an intertrochanteric fracture occurs in the part of the pelvic bone that juts out.\nHip Fracture Side Effects and Complications\nBoth types of hip fractures can cause:\n\nExtreme pain\nInability to move or put weight on the leg\nStiffness, swelling, and bruising around the hip area\n\nSome people who have suffered a hip fracture may find that the leg on their affected side appears shorter than the other or that the foot turns outward from their body.\nBecause hip fractures and similar fall-related injuries can slow you down and require rest, they can increase your risk of complications, including:\n\nBlood clots\nUrinary tract infections\nBed sores\nPneumonia\n\nThe immobility caused by fractures can also cause your muscles to atrophy and your bones to weaken, which can raise your odds of another fall.\nFall-Related Injury and Hip Fracture Risks\nYou’re more likely to experience fall-related injuries if you:\n\nAre a senior citizen. As we age, bone and muscle mass decrease at the same time that vision and balance problems increase.\nAre a woman. The drop in estrogen that accompanies menopause means that women lose bone density more quickly than men, making them more prone to fractures. About 70 percent of hip fractures occur in women.\nHave osteoporosis or other conditions that can weaken bones or raise the risk of falling, such as an overactive thyroid, cognitive dysfunction, and an intestinal disorder.\nTake certain medications, including steroid drugs and sedatives.\nHave an eating disorder or certain nutritional deficiencies.\nAre physically inactive.\nUse tobacco, alcohol, or both.\n\nPreventing Fall-Related Injuries and Hip Fractures\nIf you fracture a hip or suffer other fall-related injuries, you should seek immediate medical attention. You may require hip repair or replacement surgery. Because about 20 percent of people who fracture a hip will have another hip fracture within a few years, your physician may recommend medications such as bisphosphonates to help reduce that risk. You’ll also likely need regular physical therapy and rehabilitation to become mobile again.\nAside from taking steps to reduce your risk of falling, you can help prevent fractures by exercising regularly, getting enough calcium and vitamin D to build and maintain bone mass, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. Your doctor can give you other advice for preventing fractures and other injuries.\n\u00bb Watch our Medical Mondays segment on preventing falls among seniors and find additional fall-related articles.