Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2022;106(6):online

Related article: Hip Fractures: Diagnosis and Management

What is a hip fracture?

Fracture is another word for broken bone. A hip fracture is a break at the top of your upper leg bone. Hip fractures can occur at any age, but most occur from a fall in older adults. Hip fractures are more common in women. People with weak bones from osteoporosis (AH-stee-oh-por-OH-sus) are more likely to break a hip.

What are the symptoms?

Pain in the hip or groin area is the most common. The pain is usually worse with movement of the hip. Most people cannot walk because it hurts too much.

How is it treated in the hospital?

First, the medical team will give you medicine for pain control. Most patients with a hip fracture will need surgery. Usually, this involves putting in metal pins, rods, or plates to hold the broken bone together. Some patients will need hip replacement surgery, which will give the patient an artificial metal hip. The type of surgery depends on the type of fracture, the exact location, and your age and health.

What happens next?

Recovery after hip surgery is a long process. You may stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery.

You will need rehab with a physical therapist. Sometimes this can take place at home, but many patients need to stay in a rehab hospital for several weeks. The goal is to get you moving so that you can get back to normal activity.

Your doctor will check you for osteoporosis. If you have it, you will need to take medicine to make your bones stronger.

How can hip fractures be prevented?

Here’s what you can do to make another fracture less likely.

  • Stay physically active. Ask your physical therapist about what you should do.

  • Take medicine to treat osteoporosis, if needed.

  • Have your doctor arrange for a home safety check to make sure there are not items in your home that make you more likely to fall and break your hip again.

Where can I get more information?

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