Atypical thigh fracture

An atypical thigh fracture is when your thigh bone breaks with little or no force.

Research suggests a link between atypical thigh fractures and the following osteoporosis medications:

  • alendronate
  • risedronate
  • ibandronate
  • zoledronate
  • denosumab

Be reassured that your risk of atypical thigh fracture is extremely small. In fact, it is much lower than your risk of breaking a bone if you don’t have the treatment. If you are prescribed one of these medications, your doctor has decided the benefits of taking a drug treatment far outweigh the risk.

We encourage you to talk to your doctor about any concerns. They can explain more about their decision and hopefully offer some reassurance. Our specialist nurses are also here for you, if you need to talk your concerns through with someone else.

Can I do anything to reduce my risk?

In most cases, you don’t need to take any special precautions. 

Your risk of atypical thigh fractures increases slightly the longer you take your osteoporosis medication. Your doctor takes this into account when they periodically review your treatment.

If you've been taking your medication for five years or more

Ask your doctor whether you need to stay on the treatment.

Unless you’re at very high risk of breaking a bone, you could pause your treatment for one to three years. Pausing your treatment reduces your risk of atypical thigh fractures, but the beneficial effects of your osteoporosis medication also begin to slowly wear off.

If you have pain in your thigh

If you notice a new and unexplained pain in your thigh or groin, talk to your doctor as soon as you can.

If they think your pain could be caused by your treatment, they can refer you for an x-ray or a scan as a precaution.

If you break your thigh

Although this is very rare, if you do experience an atypical thigh fracture, you should stop taking your osteoporosis medication unless your specialist advises otherwise.

You may also be advised to:

  • avoid weight-bearing exercise
  • try an alternative osteoporosis treatment
  • consider an operation to stabilise the bone with a pin and plate