Fragility fracture of the hip

This information may be useful for those who have been diagnosed with a fragility fracture of the hip. People who are experiencing new or ongoing symptoms should contact their healthcare professional.

Read about advice on dealing with a hip problem

What is a fragility fracture?

A fragility fracture is a break in the bone from an impact or fall that would not normally be expected to cause a fracture.

This can also be known as:

  • a broken hip
  • low-level trauma
  • low-energy trauma
  • a neck of femur (NoF) fracture

What causes a fragility fracture of the hip?

Fragility fractures of the hip are most commonly caused by a fall from standing height or less.

People with conditions that cause their bones to weaken, like osteoporosis, have an increased likelihood of a fall causing a fracture. This can happen due to age or other factors.

Read more about osteoporosis

How is a fragility fracture of the hip treated?

Most people with a fractured hip will need an operation under anaesthetic to repair it. If an operation is required it would normally be done as soon as possible in the few days following the injury. A healthcare professional will discuss the different options available to you before any operation takes place.

In some circumstances your healthcare professional may suggest a different treatment path. This could be because you have no pain, mild symptoms or that undergoing an operation may not be suitable because of other health concerns.

Most people who sustain a fractured hip will require extra nutrition to help their bodies recover from the injury and subsequent operation. You may be offered nutritional drinks to help with energy levels, particularly if you are showing signs of malnutrition.

Read more about malnutrition

Delirium

It’s very common for people to become confused after this injury or while in hospital, this is called delirium. Delirium often starts suddenly and can be frightening, but usually improves when the condition causing it gets better.

If you had a problem with your memory before you broke your hip, you may find that it gets worse for a while after your operation.

If you are a patient, family or carer and have noticed any changes in memory or confusion, you should discuss this with the hospital staff as soon as possible.

Read the NHS Scotland Think Delirium leaflet

Recovery from a fragility fracture of the hip

It’s normal for the average length of stay in hospital to vary from person to person and depends on how well you recover. Some people need extra help with physiotherapy and occupational therapy after their operation which can make their stay in hospital longer.

After your operation you will be given strong painkillers to manage your pain levels and allow you to start to move. You will be able to gradually reduce these as you recover, your health care professional can help you plan this reduction.

What happens after a fragility fracture of the hip?

Following a fracture, mobility and independence may be affected, in some cases resulting in sudden life changes.

There is potential for loss of confidence, anxiety, depression and reduced quality of life.

Once you have broken your hip, your risk of another broken bone and further falls is increased. Your healthcare professional will discuss how to improve your bone health and help prevent further falls.

You may find it uncomfortable but it is important to be mobile as soon after the operation as possible.

Standards of care

The Scottish Hip Fracture Audit have set standards of care that aim to improve the quality of your care in hospital.

Information on how hospitals are meeting these standards is collected so that they can identify any improvements needed.

Read about how the data is used and published

Help and support

After you have been discharged from hospital if you are not improving, or it’s got worse, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP practice about your symptoms.

When dealing with any health condition it’s important to also look after your mental wellbeing as this can impact your recovery.


Last updated:
14 March 2024