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Hip Fracture - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

You will most likely need surgery to fix your hip. Surgery usually works well, but your hip will probably take a long time to get better.

Surgery is done as soon as possible after a hip fracture is diagnosed, often within 24 hours. Having surgery right away may help shorten your stay in the hospital and reduce pain and complications. Sometimes surgery is delayed for 1 to 2 days so other medical problems can be treated first. This may make surgery less risky.

The type of surgery you have will depend on where the break is and how bad it is.

  • Hip repair surgery camera.gif is called internal fixation or "hip pinning." The doctor uses metal screws, rods, or plates to hold the bone together while it heals. This surgery is usually chosen if the bones can be lined up properly.
  • Hip replacement surgery camera.gif involves replacing part or all of the joint with artificial parts. In a partial hip replacement, the doctor replaces the broken upper part of the thighbone. In a total hip replacement, both the hip socket and the top of the thigh bone are replaced. Total hip replacement is often done when the fractured bones can't be properly lined up.

After surgery, your doctor will want you to start moving as soon as you can. This will help prevent problems such as pneumonia, blood clots, and bed sores. These things may happen because you have to stay in bed so long. You may also need to take a blood-thinning medicine to reduce the risk of blood clots.

After your surgery, it will be hard to do things like cooking and getting dressed by yourself. So for a while you may need to be in a nursing home or rehabilitation (rehab) center.

Your doctor will encourage you to take part in a rehab program that includes physical therapy and occupational therapy. This will teach you:

  • Exercises to help you regain your strength and ability to move around.
  • New ways to do simple daily activities.
  • Safe ways to stay active.

Taking part in a rehab program is very important because it will speed up your recovery and help you to get back to your normal activities sooner.

After a hip fracture, some people aren't ever able to get around as well as they could before. They may need to use a walker or cane. They may need help with daily activities such as dressing and bathing. And many can no longer live on their own. Work hard to get your strength and mobility back so you can be as independent as possible.

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