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Rehabilitation After a Hip Fracture


Zacharia Isaac

, MD, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Reviewed/Revised Dec 2023
Topic Resources

Even before people start doing rehabilitation exercises, people are encouraged to try to get out of bed to a chair with assistance. Sitting reduces the risk of pressure sores Pressure Sores Pressure sores are areas of skin damage resulting from a lack of blood flow due to prolonged pressure. Pressure sores often result from pressure combined with pulling on the skin, friction,... read more Pressure Sores and blood clots and eases the transition to standing. They are taught to do daily exercises to strengthen the trunk and arm muscles and are sometimes taught exercises to strengthen the large muscles of both legs. Usually within the first day after surgery, they are encouraged to stand on the uninjured leg, often with the assistance of another person or while holding onto a chair or a bed rail. While doing these exercises, people are directed to touch only the tips of the toes of the injured leg to the floor. Putting their full weight on the injured leg is often encouraged on the second day after surgery but depends on the kind of fracture and repair.

Just the Right Height

For people who are recovering from a leg injury or surgery, using a cane that is the correct height is important. A cane that is too long or too short can cause low back pain, poor posture, and instability. The cane should be held on the side opposite of an injured leg.

Just the Right Height

Ambulation (walking) exercises Ambulation exercises Physical therapy, a component of rehabilitation, involves exercising and manipulating the body with an emphasis on the back, upper arms, and legs. It can improve joint and muscle function, helping... read more are started after 4 to 8 days as long as people can bear full weight on the injured leg without discomfort and can balance well enough. Stair-climbing exercises are started soon after walking is resumed. In addition, people may be taught how to use a cane or another assistive device and how to reduce the risk of falls.

For some months (usually 1 to 3) after discharge, measures are needed to prevent injury. People should do daily exercises to strengthen the muscles of the affected leg and the torso. They are advised not to lift or push heavy objects or sit in a chair for long periods of time and not to stoop, reach, or jump. When sitting, they should not cross their legs. Therapists teach people how to do their daily activities safely while their hip is healing. For example, people should keep their hip aligned correctly (not twisted), sit on a high stool when washing dishes or ironing, and use long-handled devices (such as reachers and long-handled shoe horns) so that they do not have to bend over often. Even after the hip has healed, they are advised to avoid some sports and strenuous activities.

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