What to Know About Surgery for Hip Fractures

Medically Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on November 02, 2022
3 min read

So, you’ve broken your hip. Whether it was from a fall, a blow to your hip, or something else, you’ll do best if you have surgery right away. But first, your doctor might want to do some tests to make sure you’re strong enough for the procedure.

Your treatment will likely combine surgery, rehab, and meds to help you manage pain.

Your doctor will judge your health and the way you broke your hip to decide which of the following methods is best:

  • Internal repair. Your surgeon inserts screws into your bone. This holds it together while the fracture heals. Sometimes they’ll attach the screws to a metal plate placed along your thighbone.
  • Partial hip replacement. This is usually done if the ends of the fractured bone are damaged or out of place. Your surgeon will replace the top of the bone with a metal prosthesis. That’s a substitute for a missing part.
  • Total hip replacement. This is a good option if your joint has been damaged by arthritis or another injury. Your surgeon replaces your upper femur (your thighbone) and the socket in your pelvic bone with prostheses.

Hip replacement options are good choices if the fracture damages the blood supply to the ball part of your hip joint. This is the part that lets your upper leg bend and rotate. Not having enough blood supply keeps the bone from healing as well.

You might. Or you could choose to go straight to a rehab facility where you can start your recovery treatment right away.

You’ll probably need help getting out of bed the day after your operation. A physical therapist will work with you for as long as you need to get strong and walk again. This can take as long as 3 months.

Your doctor will help you manage it so you can feel better and heal faster. They’ll give you short-term pain relief medicine. They’ll likely combine drugs that keep down swelling and local anesthetics that numb the surgery site.

Most patients need to take medicine to thin their blood. This cuts down the chances of having blood clots. Special compression socks or boots that support your leg and improve blood flow can help, too.

Your doctor might be wary of prescribing drugs called opioids. These are narcotics that relieve pain by blocking the signal to your brain. They work but can be very addictive. It’s important to take them only as instructed. As soon as the pain gets better, stop.

During your appointments after surgery, your surgeon will check the wound, remove any stitches, and take X-rays. They’ll see how your physical therapy is going and decide whether you need more.

An occupational therapist can help you get back in the swing of daily life, too. This can include practical things like bathing, dressing, cooking, and going to the bathroom.

You’re likely to get back much -- and maybe all -- of the freedom and mobility you had before.

About 20% of people who have a hip fracture will have another within 2 years. You may lower the chances of this by figuring out what caused it the first time.

A drug called a bisphosphonate can reduce your risk. It stops your bones from getting weak. But if you take it by mouth, it can have side effects. Your doctor might want you to have it through an IV tube.