Learning About Surgery to Repair a Hip Fracture

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Picture of a hip and two types of hip fractures

What is surgery for a hip fracture?

Surgery for a hip fracture repairs a broken hip bone. Broken hips are often caused by a fall or other injury. Some kinds of broken bones heal on their own in a cast. But a broken hip is not likely to heal well without surgery.

This type of surgery is usually done right after a hip breaks.

How is surgery for a hip fracture done?

During surgery to fix a fractured hip, you will be asleep and will not feel pain. Your doctor will:

  • Make one or two cuts (incisions) over the broken bone in your hip.
  • Move the pieces of bone back into the right position.
  • Attach the pieces of the bone together with metal pins, screws, rods, or plates.
  • Use X-rays to see if the pins and plates are in the correct place.
  • Stitch or staple the incisions closed.

What can you expect after surgery for a hip fracture ?

You will probably stay in the hospital for 2 to 4 days after surgery. Your rehabilitation program (rehab) will start at this time. If you don't have someone to help you at home, you may go from the hospital to a short-term rehabilitation center or a long-term care center.

During the first week or so after surgery, you'll need less and less pain medicine. For a few weeks after surgery, you'll probably take medicine to prevent blood clots.

For several months, you may need the help of a walker or crutches. After that, you may need to walk with a cane. At first, you may need help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and cooking. Rehab will help you get back to your regular activities. But it will probably take at least 3 months to return to your normal routine. It may take 6 months to 1 year for you to fully recover. Some people, especially older people, are never able to move as well as they used to.

  • You will slowly return to most of your activities.
    • You may be able to walk on your own in 4 to 6 weeks. Until then, you will need crutches or a walker. After that, you may need to walk with a cane.
    • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
    • You may be able to return to work in 4 weeks to 4 months, depending on your job.
    • Your doctor will tell you when you can walk, swim, dance, golf, or bicycle. Ask your doctor about other activities you would like to do.
    • Your doctor may advise you to avoid more strenuous activities, such as running or tennis, or those where a fall is possible, such as horseback riding or skiing.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.