May 11th, 2011
11:30 AM ET

How long does a broken hip take to heal?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Asked by Faye from Farmville, North Carolina

How long does it take to completely recover from hip fracture? I fell on December 8, then had surgery December 10 and came home from the hospital December 11. I'm doing well - walking with a cane but still limping.

Expert answer

Dear Faye:

A broken hip is one of the most common orthopedic injuries in people over the age of 65. It usually occurs as a result of a fall. It is often associated with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is often referred to as having brittle bones due to a loss of calcium.

Although there are several kinds of hip fractures, most are repaired with a hip replacement, also known as a total hip arthroplasty. Approximately 150,000 hip replacement operations are done each year in the U.S., and 500,000 are done worldwide. About half of these surgeries are done under emergency circumstances for a broken hip, and half are planned surgeries because of arthritis or other hip problems.

In this operation, the top of the femur (thigh) bone is cut off and a "man-made" top of femur replaces it. This prosthesis is circular or ball-like on top and generally made of metal. A semicircular plastic liner is placed in that part of the pelvis known as the acetabulum. This is where the upper leg comes in contact with the pelvis. The ball-like top of femur sits and moves in the semi-circular acetabulum, and this defines the hip joint.

In the surgery, a lot of muscles and ligaments are pulled and held away from the joint to allow the surgeon access. In this process, these soft tissues are damaged and need to heal after surgery. The patient who has a routine recovery can expect bruising of muscle and inflammation of the tendons at a minimum. These flesh injuries and tendonitis can be extremely painful and limit mobility. It can take several months to a year before complete recovery.

Those whose progress becomes stagnant at any time after surgery should have an evaluation by their orthopedic surgeon. The most common reason for a plateau in recovery is muscle weakness. Patients do benefit from regular physical therapy. Weight training and stretching can strengthen muscles and stretch ligaments. It is unfortunate that there is a tendency to skip physical therapy or take short cuts. This is a special problem among older patients.

Leg length discrepancy is also a common problem after surgery. Orthopedists do work hard to minimize leg length discrepancy, but it is difficult to do. A shoe lift may be needed to equalize the limb length, and some patients do end up needing a cane permanently.

Less common problems are heterotopic ossification and loosening of the artificial hip.

Heterotopic ossification involves a fibrous band that grows about the joint. It causes a stiffening of the hip and can begin occurring 10 days to two years after hip surgery.

Loose hip prostheses were a significant problem 20 years ago but less so today. Loosening of the artificial hip is more common among people who are overweight. When walking, a heavier person puts more stress on the prosthesis as it goes into the bone. Both heterotopic ossification and loosening of the prosthesis are diagnosed with physical examination and radiologic imaging.

soundoff (1,827 Responses)
  1. camper van near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly believe that this website needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the info!


    May 12, 2021 at 01:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Diesel Sprinter Engine Repair Service


    May 12, 2021 at 02:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. riverside collision provo


    May 12, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. bucket truck repair near me


    May 12, 2021 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Kitchen Orange County


    May 12, 2021 at 05:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. motor home furnishings

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 12, 2021 at 05:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Repair Van


    May 12, 2021 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Bathroom California

    I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


    May 12, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. vinyl repair near me


    May 12, 2021 at 06:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Desi

    Hi there juxt wanted to give you a brief heads up
    and let you knmow a ffew of the pictures aren't
    loading properly. I'mnot sure whhy but I think its a
    linking issue. I've tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same results.

    May 12, 2021 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV TV Los Angeles

    After I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I receive four emails with the same comment. There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that service? Many thanks!


    May 12, 2021 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. wrap shop near me


    May 12, 2021 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Mechanics California


    May 12, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Awning Riverside


    May 12, 2021 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. ambulance repair

    I love it whenever people come together and share ideas. Great website, continue the good work!


    May 12, 2021 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. rv repairman near me


    May 12, 2021 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Concrete Contractor Lincoln NE

    Nice response in return of this query with genuine arguments and explaining all concerning that.

    Also visit my blog ... Concrete Contractor Lincoln NE

    May 12, 2021 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV TV Orange County


    May 12, 2021 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Sprinter Van Repair Laguna Niguel

    I like it whenever people come together and share thoughts. Great website, stick with it!


    May 12, 2021 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. photo restoration orange county ca

    Good post. I absolutely love this site. Keep it up!


    May 12, 2021 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. all class rv yorba linda

    You've made some really good points there. I checked on the web for more information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.


    May 12, 2021 at 20:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Dodge Sprinter Auto Repair


    May 12, 2021 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. fiberglass store near me

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. Is there an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos!


    May 12, 2021 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. rv window leak repair

    Very good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the good writing.


    May 12, 2021 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rv electrician near me

    Having read this I believed it was rather enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    May 12, 2021 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Mercedes Benz Sprinter Service Center Near Me


    May 13, 2021 at 00:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. rv interior remodeling companies

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Thank you!


    May 13, 2021 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. blue sky rv insurance reviews

    Excellent web site you've got here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 13, 2021 at 01:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. RV Slide Out Orange County


    May 13, 2021 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. semi truck paint shops near me

    Next time I read a blog, I hope that it won't fail me just as much as this particular one. After all, I know it was my choice to read, however I actually thought you would have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something that you could fix if you weren't too busy seeking attention.


    May 13, 2021 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. rv storage in orange county ca

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Thank you for sharing!


    May 13, 2021 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. repair rv shades


    May 13, 2021 at 03:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. motorhome repair shops

    You've made some really good points there. I looked on the web for more info about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.


    May 13, 2021 at 03:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. rv dealers orange county ca


    May 13, 2021 at 05:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. rv furniture outlet store near me


    May 13, 2021 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. camper inspection near me

    After checking out a few of the articles on your blog, I really appreciate your way of writing a blog. I book marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my website too and let me know what you think.


    May 13, 2021 at 05:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Concrete Lincoln NE

    Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after browsing
    through some of the post I realized it's new to me.
    Anyways, I'm definitely delighted I found it and I'll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

    my webpage ... Concrete Lincoln NE

    May 13, 2021 at 05:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. rv repair orange county

    Hi, I believe your web site may be having web browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic website!


    May 13, 2021 at 06:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. tv repair in temecula


    May 13, 2021 at 06:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RV Solar Panels Systems California

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a friend who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast simply because I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about this subject here on your web site.


    May 13, 2021 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. tv repair temecula

    Excellent site you have got here.. It’s hard to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 13, 2021 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. rv parts in san diego


    May 13, 2021 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. rv parts san diego

    Everyone loves it when people come together and share thoughts. Great website, keep it up!


    May 13, 2021 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Sprinter Mechanic


    May 13, 2021 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. insider

    Nice blo here! Also your wweb site loads up fast!
    What howt are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to
    your host? I wish my website loaded up as quickly as yours lol

    May 13, 2021 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. https://j-website.net

    Best view i have ever seen !


    May 13, 2021 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Sprinter Van Side Repair Price


    May 13, 2021 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. rv fridge repair near me


    May 13, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. index of xvideos

    Very good info. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident (stumbleupon). I've book-marked it for later!


    May 13, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Vanlife Repair Costs For Mercedes Sprinter

    This excellent website truly has all of the info I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 13, 2021 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.