Can you break a hip without falling?

6 answers | Last updated: Sep 25, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My elderly uncle broke his hip and is in the hospital. His doctor asked him how it happened; he replied that his hip broke and it made him fall. The doctor corrected him and said he fell and that broke his hip. Is it possible that my uncle was correct? I have heard that before that osteoporosis in the elderly can cause a frail bone to break while walking. I'd like to know if my uncle is right so I can defend him when others think he is mixed up. Thank you for your time and assistance.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Regarding hip fractures in the elderly, the majority of them occur from falls. I would have to agree with your uncle's doctor here. If he is an experienced orthopedist, he knows that hip fractures from a fall would appear totally different from a spontaneous fracture from walking.

Furthermore, a hip fracture that occured just from walking is very rare. It would mean that your uncle was severely osteoporitic, which would be rare in a man. Also, he would have fractured many other bones before this one, as the femur is one of the strongest bones in a human.

About your uncle- he may want to believe he broke his hip first, because that may make him feel less embarrassed. It may also help him feel that the fall wasn't his fault.

Please don't feel you need to defend him and make people think he is not "mixed up". The best thing you can do is support him by letting him know that you will be there for him during his recovery, as this will be a difficult process. He needs to participate in physical therapy so that he can get stronger and walk again.

Community Answers

Nursejulz answered...

Thats absolute rubbish. I suggest you have a read of this:

Falls can definitely occur due to a fracture ocuring first and I'm sure your grandfather knows best as he may have felt it occur before he fell. Best of Luck to him!

Nursejulz answered...

Sorry I meant your uncle :S

Lizjames answered...

You most definitely can. I am 25 years old... do intense work out activies about 4-5 x a week and fractured my femoral neck about 9 months ago. I have thyroid issues and think the meds could have caused my bones to weaken. I never fell or was a stress fracture that came on slowly until I could barely walk and it took 6 months to heal...I still have hip pain and have to regulate my exercise activities.

"doctor" burger answered...

NurseJulz was absolutely right. Breaks can occur BEFORE a fall. I don't care if that doctor was an orthopedist. He must have gotten his training at good old CSH (Chicago Slaughter House). I am not a doctor, but even I know that diseases like cancer or bone density issues can cause a break - thereby causing the victim to fall.
I suggest that gentleman find another doctor!!!!!! Soon!!!!!

Kckidder answered...

The expert is no expert. Any orthopedic surgeon will tell you that the majority of hip fxs are caused by weakening of bone structure in elderly patients. The hip breaks and then they fall. Have been a OR Supervisor for 40 years and worked with many Orthopods, and scrupped on over 300 fractured hip repairs. Yes a few foolish people climb ladders at age 85 and fall and fracture but a majority just give way. Wonder why the expert thinks we do so many Total Hip Repairs on worn out hips that have not fractured yet? Linda Schur, RN, BA, CNOR