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Recovering from a Hip Fracture

In a previous blog, we discussed the risk factors and symptoms of a hip fracture. Today, we’re going to overview the various treatment options that are available to repair a broken hip.

Though a hip fracture can be an extremely dangerous injury to sustain, if treated properly, the following options can help repair the fracture and begin the road to recovery.

The three most common treatment options used in conjunction to repair a fractured hip are:

  • Surgery
  • Medication
  • Rehabilitation

The goals of these treatment options are to return the patient to his or her pre-fracture level of functionality. Let’s take a closer look at each of the three possibilities.

Surgery

When a patient suffers a broken hip, his or her doctor will likely recommend one of the following surgeries depending on the severity and the location of the fracture.

  • Partial hip replacement – If the ends of the fractured bone are damaged or displaced, the surgeon may remove the head and neck of the fracture and install a metal replacement.
  • Internal repair using screws – Metal screws will be inserted into the bone in order to hold it together while the fracture heals. These screws are sometimes attached to a metal plate that runs down the femur.
  • Total hip replacement – The upper femur and the socket in the pelvic bone are both replaced with prostheses. This type of surgery is a common option for a person with arthritis or a previous injury that has damaged the joint.

The short-term goal of surgery is to stabilize the hip enough to endure the early stages of mobilization and weight bearing. Once surgery is complete, medication and rehabilitation will likely be the next steps taken during the recovery period.

Medication

Though it’s not likely, there is a small chance that a recovering patient can suffer another hip fracture within two years. In an effort to reduce the risk of a second fracture, bisphosphonates are prescribed. Bisphosphonates are a group of medicines used to treat conditions that affect a person’s bones. Most of the medications that are prescribed are taken orally, but others can be administered intravenously.

Rehabilitation 

Almost immediately following a surgical procedure, a patient will be encouraged to get out of bed with the assistance of a physical therapist. The amount of weight that can be placed on the hip that’s been surgically repaired is determined by the surgeon. During the time after the surgery, the patient will work with a physical therapist to regain strength and the ability to walk normally. The usual rehabilitation period following surgery is approximately three months.

If you’d like to learn more about the recovery and treatment period after hip fracture surgery, schedule some time to speak with your primary care physician.

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St. Barnabas Health System
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