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Hip fracture: care and treatment

Hip fracture care in hospital is provided by a large team of specialists working together.

Pain relief

  • A broken hip can be very painful and so patients are offered pain relief to keep them as comfortable as possible and to allow examinations, investigations, nursing care and rehabilitation to take place.
  • For some people, paracetamol can be enough to keep pain under control, but most people experience pain on moving in bed that requires additional pain relief.
  • Most people will need stronger pain killers such as morphine, but these tend to cause constipation and bowel medicines may be needed to avoid this.
  • Although stronger pain killers can make some people muddled, so will untreated pain.
  • A local anaesthetic injection in the groin called a ‘nerve block’ can be very effective in reducing pain, with fewer side effects than strong pain killers.


“The best form of pain relief for someone with a broken hip is an operation." 

(Antony Johansen, consultant orthogeriatrician)

Most people who break their hip will need to have an operation to provide pain relief and allow them to get back on their feet again as soon as possible.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that surgery should take place on the day of, or the day after, admission with a broken hip.

What type of operation will they have?

This will depend on where their hip is broken and will be one of the following:

  • Surgery to replace all or part of the hip joint
  • Surgery to fix the fracture with a plate and/or screws
  • Surgery to fix the fracture with a rod inside the thigh bone.

Some people aren’t well enough for an operation and so the surgeon, anaesthetist and orthogeriatrician may advise that it is best to delay surgery and concentrate on pain relief until the patient’s overall condition has improved.

Very occasionally, a surgeon may decide surgery is not necessary if the broken pieces of bone are lodged together, allowing a person to walk on the broken hip without pain.

Find out more

Hip Fracture: a guide for family carers aims to ensure that carers are equipped with the information they need to support the recovery of the person in their care.