Fractures around a hip replacement or knee replacement

A fracture in the bone around a hip replacement or knee replacement may occur after the hip or knee was replaced. In many cases, the replaced joint works normally for years before the fracture happens.

A fracture near a hip replacement or knee replacement is also known as a periprosthetic fracture.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a fracture near a replaced hip or knee joint:

  • Pain near the replaced joint after a fall or trauma
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Inability to put weight on the leg
  • The leg looks deformed

Causes and risk factors

Fractures around hip replacements and knee replacements are often caused by a fall or a direct blow to the leg or joint.

People who have conditions that weaken their bones, such as osteoporosis or rheumatoid arthritis, are at a greater risk for this type of fracture, because the bone around the replacement will be more likely to break.

Other risk factors are poor vision or poor balance, since these conditions can make a fall more likely.

Treatment options

In most cases, a fracture around a hip replacement or a knee replacement will require surgery. In general, the surgery will likely involve one of the following:

  • Screws, cables, plates, or a bone graft that are applied to the fracture to fix and hold the bone together
  • The implant from the original joint replacement is removed and replaced with a new implant

The treatment your doctor recommends will depend on several factors, including:

  • The location of the fracture
  • The quality of the remaining bone around the fracture and the implant
  • Whether the replaced joint is still well-fixed or came loose because of the fracture
  • Your overall health
Last reviewed: 
June 2017

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