How do I Treat a Broken Hip?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A broken hip means a fracture of the very top or joint area of the femur or long bone in the thigh. Type of hip fracture might be separated into different groups depending where the break occurs and often is grouped into two bone regions, which might require different kinds of treatment. Ultimately, people cannot treat a broken hip at home, and a fracture is a medical emergency because blood loss and permanent damage to the hip can occur. The short answer to how to get treatment is thus to get to a doctor to determine which treatment strategy is best.

A severe hip fracture may need hip replacement surgery to fix.
A severe hip fracture may need hip replacement surgery to fix.

As mentioned, fractures may be divided into two or more groups depending on where they occur. Some are called femoral neck fractures. When the hip joint is visualized, the femur narrows into a small neck, and then widens to become the ball of the ball and socket joint at the hip. A broken hip here means the ball part of the joint it partially or totally severed from the rest of the femur. This type of broken hip is very serious because is can involve significant blood loss. If not repaired quickly, this may cause death of the top of the femur, and be of medical risk to the injured person.

Seniors who have suffered hip fractures should get regular exercise to rebuild strength.
Seniors who have suffered hip fractures should get regular exercise to rebuild strength.

Alternately, the fracture may occur a little below the femoral neck and hip joint and this may be called an intertrochanteric fracture. These fractures may be slightly easier to treat because they run less risk of having disrupted blood supply to the femur and the hip joint. Still, both types of fractures are quite serious.

Surgery of some kind is almost always the recommended treatment for a broken hip, but if a person has severe illness or injuries of other kinds (as from a car accident), it might be delayed. Most of the time, as long as a patient is healthy enough to withstand anesthesia, surgery will be recommended. Type of surgery then becomes an issue of choice in some cases. It is the usually the preference when a femoral neck fracture occurs or in instances where there is an intertrochanteric fracture to preserve the hip when possible. This may be done by using screws or a procedure called pinning, to help the bone knit back together through stabilization. Sometimes metal plates are used too to provide extra stability. Most important is making certain that blood flow is reestablished, or bone death may result.

In some cases, the broken hip injury is so severe, that the bone cannot be restored. When this occurs surgeons may opt to do a partial or complete hip replacement. For the patient, what needs to be known about this surgery is that it has more complications and greater risk, but it also may have easier recovery time. Additionally, a surgeon might not make this a first choice, and certainly wouldn’t do so without informing a patient or advocate for the patient. Usually patients are given options on what to do, with the proviso that the surgeon might need to do more to restore function to the broken hip than is initially planned.

Recovery from a broken hip can take some time because of issues surrounding blood flow and its role in helping bones heal. Any type of hip surgery may require some physical therapy and limits on activity, and most people won’t be able to move around a lot at first. Treatment continues to be assessed after initial surgery to determine if it is working and to manage any issues associated with post surgical pain. Complications might require additional surgeries or other treatments.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@rundocuri- As we age, we naturally lose bone mass which makes our bones become more brittle. This problem is even worse for women who have osteoporosis and people who have not had enough calcium in their diets throughout their lives.

In addition, an older person is less steady on his or her feet, and a person's hip bone would take a lot of pressure and weight during a fall. These factors all add up to make hip fractures more common in older individuals.

You can help your older loved one prevent a fall by making sure he or she is in good health, and visits a doctor to take care of any health issues that may cause instability. Dizziness, faintness, and painful joints are all issues that should be addressed.

It is also important to make sure that the home environment is free of items that can be tripped on, such as loose rugs and cluttered walkways. Helping an older individual keep his or her property free of debris, ice, and snow will also go a long way in preventing dangerous falls that could result in a broken hip.


It seems like broken hips are common injuries in older people. You hear a lot of concern about preventing the elderly from falling, because the prolonged recovery period required for a broken hip can be very hard on this age group.

Why are older people more prone to this type of bone breakage? As family members and loved ones, what can we do to help prevent these injuries from happening?

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