Hip Fractures

Xray of a hip fracture that has been fixed with surgical plates and screws called a DHS
Xray of a hip fracture that has been fixed with surgical plates and screws called a DHS

Treatment

The treatment for a hip fracture usually involves surgery either to fix or replace the broken bone. This surgery is performed as soon as possible, so that patients can walk and start their recovery.

Tell me about the surgery

Surgery is the best way to treat a broken hip.

The type of surgery depends on:

  • the type of fracture
  • severity of the fracture
  • your age
  • your pre-existing medical health
  • your mobility and ability to function independently before the fracture

What are the different ways surgeons use to fix a hip fracture?

Depending on the type of hip fracture, surgeons can use:

  • Plates and Screws. This is called a DHS or Dynamic Hip Screw. In this operation, the surgeon places a large metal screw across the fracture. A plate is then attached to the screw. A number of smaller screws are then used to secure the plate to the femur bone.
  • Screws alone. These are called Cannulated Screws.
  • Surgical Nail or Rod. These are called Intramedullary Nails or IM Nails.
  • Partial Hip Replacement. This is called a Hemiarthroplasty
  • Full Hip Replacement. This is called a Total Hip Replacement or Total Hip Arthroplasty.

DHS hip screw

Rehabilitation | When can I start walking again?

No matter which type of operation you have, the aim is to get you up and going as soon as possible, usually the day after the operation.

Day 1 After the Operation

Your physiotherapist will help you get up and moving, often with the help of a walker. You'll begin physiotherapy, typically with a focus on range of motion and strengthening exercises.

Week 1 After the Operation

Hospital stays after hip fracture surgery generally last less than a week. Depending on the type of surgery you had and whether you have assistance at home, you may need to go from the hospital to an extended care facility.

Within 1 month After the Operation

In extended care and at home, you may work with an occupational therapist to learn techniques for independence in daily life, such as using the toilet, bathing, dressing and cooking. Your occupational therapist will determine if a walker or wheelchair may help you regain mobility and independence.

Ongoing, you may continue to meet with a physiotherapist and occupational therapist as you recover from surgery.

Medications | What medications will I be given in hospital?

Apart from your usual medications, you will be given:

  • Pain relief. Reducing you pain before and after the operation can be achieved using a number of medications and techniques. Often, whilst in the emergency department, you will be given a nerve block to numb your legs. You could also receive types of pain killers that could be given orally or through an intravenous drip. Your anaesthetist could also give you a spinal or epidural before your operation to help with the pain before and after the operation.
  • Bone strengthening. Many people who suffer hip fractures have thin bones called osteoporosis. We will do blood tests to see if you need vitamins or other medications to help strengthen your bones.

Rehabilitation | Tell me about my exercises and recovery

Recovering from a hip fracture involves a lengthy period of rehabilitation. The goal of rehabilitation is to help you regain mobility. You'll learn how to gradually place more weight on your hip until it can handle your full weight without pain. You'll also learn how to sit, stand and walk so that you don't re-injure your hip or damage your prosthesis, if you have one.

Will I need crutches, a frame or walking sticks?

Help with walking and other activities After a hip fracture, you'll need the help of a walking aid, such as a cane, walker or crutches, for a while. You may also need help getting around your home and doing daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing and cooking. Or, you may need to enter an extended care facility while recuperating to get assistance that's not available at home.

How can I help heal my fracture?

You can help speed the healing process and increase your chances for a full recovery by following your doctor's and therapist's instructions and taking good care of yourself.

9 August, 2012