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What is the treatment for broken hips in the elderly?

5 answers | Last updated: Mar 18, 2015
Rose asked...

What will the doctor do for broken hips in elderly people?


Caring.com User - Laura Beltramo
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Laura Beltramo, a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics, graduated with honors from the University of California at San Francisco in 2000. She loves...
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Laura Beltramo answered...

Unfortunately, breaking a hipis quite common in the elderly. It is usually related to underlying osteoporosis (thinning of the bone) and can happen spontaneously or because of a fall. See also:
8 Questions to Ask an Occupational Therapist After a Broken Hip

See all 145 questions about Broken Hip
When we talk of breaking "a hip" we usually mean a break in the top part of the thigh bone (the femur). Someone who breaks a hip will have to have surgery quite soon after the fracture occurs. Generally, the doctor will either put a plate and pins in the bone to stabilize the fracture or he/she will choose to do a hip replacement which will replace the broken part of the bone with prosthesis. This decision is based on many factors. In either case, the person will require physical and occupational therapy afterwards to rehabilitate from the procedure.


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*susan answered...

My mother-in-law, broke her hip (femur) just after her 97th birthday. Thanks to her primary care doctor's carefully thought-out plan, she'll return to her home from a rehab center in a few days (4 months later) with a pin in her healed hip, a cane, a walker (for long outings until her energy returns and her legs get stronger), her independence, no ongoing pain--and no caregiver.

  1. Surgery causes much more trauma in the elderly than in the young so he first thing my mil's doctor insisted on was an experienced orthopedic surgeon. Why? It's important that the surgeon "get in and get out" as quickly as possible, resulting in less anesthesia, less blood loss, less time in the operating room, less trauma and faster recovery. In my mil's case, a pin was put in to to help the fractured femur heal.

  2. The surgeon gave the instructions for rehab. In my mil's case the surgeon insisted, no weight-bearing on the affected hip/leg for 90 days--until x-rays showed the hip healed. After verifying it had healed, the surgeon gave new instructions to the physical therapists at the rehab center. After 6 additional weeks of therapy my mil is returning to her home. I've chronicled her experience and insights on my blog http://helpparentsagewell.com. if you're interested.