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Learning About Surgery to Repair a Hip Fracture

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 centre or a long-term care centre.

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 or nurse call line 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?

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