A broken hip (hip fracture) is serious and needs treatment in hospital straight away. It can take several weeks or months to recover and you may not get back the same strength and movement you had before.
Check if you have a broken hip
A broken hip usually happens because of a fall or injury. It's more common in older people and people who have osteoporosis.
Symptoms of a broken hip include:
- pain in the hip or upper leg
- swelling and bruising around your hip and upper leg
- not being able to stand or put weight on the affected hip and leg
- difficulty moving your hip and leg
- the affected leg is at an odd angle or is shorter than the unaffected leg
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you have severe hip pain after a fall or injury
- you're unable to walk or put weight on your leg
- you have any tingling or loss of feeling in your hip or leg after an injury
Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:
- you have severe hip pain that started suddenly but you've not had a fall or injured your hip
- your hip is swollen and feels hot
- the skin around your hip has changed colour
- you have hip pain and feel generally unwell and have a high temperature or feel hot and shivery
You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.
What we mean by severe pain
- Severe pain:
- always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
- you cannot sleep
- it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
- Moderate pain:
- always there
- makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
- you can manage to get up, wash or dress
- Mild pain:
- comes and goes
- is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities
Treatment for a broken hip
A broken hip needs to be treated in hospital straight away.
You'll usually be given painkillers and have an X-ray to check if your hip is broken and to decide what treatment is best for you.
Most people will need surgery to treat a broken hip.
Depending on things like your age and the type of break, you may have surgery to:
- fix the broken bones back into place using screws, nails, rods or plates
- replace some of the damaged hip joint with an artificial part (hemiarthroplasty)
- replace all of the damaged hip joint with an artificial joint (hip replacement)
You'll usually have surgery on the same day or day after you arrive in hospital.
Recovering from a broken hip
A broken hip usually takes several weeks or months to heal, but it can take longer.
You'll usually spend around 1 to 4 weeks in hospital.
Soon after surgery you will start having regular physiotherapy to help you start standing and moving again.
When you leave hospital, you'll be given exercises to continue doing at home.
You may never get back the same strength and movement as you had before your break, and you may need to use a walking stick or frame.
Some people need help from carers or other health professionals when they move back home.
It's important to do the exercises recommended by your physiotherapist regularly. This will help you recover and improve your strength and movement.
Page last reviewed: 08 February 2023
Next review due: 08 February 2026