Hip fractures most commonly occur from a fall or from a direct blow to the side of the hip. Some medical conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, or stress injuries can weaken the bone and make the hip more susceptible to breaking. In severe cases, it is possible for the hip to break with the patient merely standing on the leg and twisting.

Symptoms of a hip fracture include:

  • Pain in the upper thigh or groin
  • Significant discomfort with any attempt to flex or rotate the hip
  • Leg may appear shorter than the uninjured leg

If your child has a potential fracture, they should be examined by a doctor as quickly as possible. A child's bones heal quickly, and it is important that the bone receives the proper treatment before it begins to heal.

Acetabular Fracture

An acetabular fracture is a break in the socket portion of the "ball-and-socket" hip joint. These hip socket fractures occur much less frequently than fractures of the upper femur. The majority of acetabular fractures are caused by some type of high-energy event, such as a car collision. Many times patients will have additional injuries that require immediate treatment. A low-energy incident, such as a fall from standing, may cause an acetabular fracture in an older person who has weaker bones. Treatment for acetabular fractures may involve surgery to restore the normal anatomy of the hip and stabilize the hip joint.

Learn more about acetabular fractures.

Femoral Shaft Fracture (Broken Thighbone)

Your thighbone is the longest and strongest bone in your body. Because the femur is so strong, it usually takes a lot of force to break it such as a car accident. When there is a break anywhere along the long, straight part of the bone (femoral shaft) surgery is almost always required to heal.

Learn more about femur shaft fractures.

Pelvic Fracture

Most pelvic fractures are of the pubic rami and sacrum. These fractures are often associated with aging individuals and osteoporosis. Treatment is typically nonsurgical and can be managed by modifying activities while the bone heals.

Learn more about pelvic fractures.

Growth Plate Fracture

Because children are still growing, their bones are subject to a unique injury called a growth plate fracture. Growth plates are areas of cartilage located near the ends of bones. They are the last portion of a child's bones to harden and are particularly vulnerable to fracture. Approximately 25% of all childhood fractures are growth plate fractures. Because the growth plate helps determine the future length and shape of the mature bone, this type of fracture requires prompt attention. If not treated properly, it could result in a limb that is crooked or unequal in length when compared to its opposite limb. With proper treatment, most growth plate fractures heal without complications.

Learn more about growth plate fractures.


X-rays are commonly used to identify fractures. Occasionally, a computed topography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be necessary.

Treatment Options

If your hip is fractured, it is likely that you will need surgery. Certain types of fractures may be considered stable enough to be managed with nonsurgical treatment. Because there is some risk these fractures may instead prove unstable and displace, the doctor will need to follow-up with periodic X-rays.

The type of surgery needed can vary depending upon the damage to your hip and your age. The hip may be able to be repaired with a compression hip screw, intramedullary nail, or locking plate. A partial hip replacement, or total hip replacement might be needed. Your doctor will talk with you about the best treatment option for you and your injury.

Physical Therapy

Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you regain strength and to restore range of motion. Depending upon your procedure, use crutches, walker, or a cane for a time.