Recovering from a hip fracture 

After fracturing a hip, you'll have a tailored rehabilitation programme to help you regain your mobility and independence as soon as possible.

Prompt surgery and an effective rehabilitation programme has been proven to significantly improve the life of a person who's had a hip fracture, reduce the length of their hospital stay and help them recover their mobility faster.

Multi-disciplinary team

Your rehabilitation will usually involve a multi-disciplinary team (a team of different healthcare professionals working together). The team may include:

  • physiotherapists healthcare professionals trained in using physical methods, such as massage and manipulation, to promote healing and wellbeing; read more about physiotherapy
  • occupational therapists therapists who identify problem areas in everyday life, such as dressing yourself or getting to the shops, and will help you work out practical solutions
  • social workers  people involved in providing social services, who can advise on practical issues, such as benefitshousing and day care
  • an orthopaedic surgeon  a surgeon who specialises in surgery for conditions involving the skeleton, particularly the spine and surrounding joints
  • a geriatrician a doctor who specialises in the healthcare of the elderly (if you're an older person)
  • a liaison nurse  a healthcare professional who may be involved in planning your discharge and keeping you and your family informed about the care you're receiving

Rehabilitation in hospital

In their guidance about the Quality Standard for Hip Fracture (PDF, 250kb), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that a physiotherapy assessment and mobilisation, such as weight-bearing exercises, should begin the day after hip fracture surgery.

While you're in hospital, your rehabilitation may take place in:

  • an orthopaedic ward  a ward for people with conditions that involve the skeleton
  • a rehabilitation ward  a ward for people undergoing rehabilitation programmes
  • a geriatric orthopaedic rehabilitation unit (GORU)  a rehabilitation unit specifically for older people with orthopaedic conditions

Being discharged

How long you need to stay in hospital will depend on your condition and how soon you regain your mobility. If you're otherwise healthy, after a hip replacement you may be able to leave hospital in three to five days.

Before you're discharged, an occupational therapist may assess your home to see whether you'll need any mobility aids fitted, such as hand rails. You may also be given a walking aid, such as a walking stick or crutch.

Your GP and carer (if you have one) may be told when you're being discharged so that plans can be made to support you. After you've been discharged you may need to:

  • return to hospital for a rehabilitation appointment
  • see your GP for a follow-up appointment
  • have visits or telephone calls at home from healthcare professionals involved in your care

This will be discussed with you before you're discharged.

Read more about your care after discharge from hospital.

Rehabilitation programme

Following a hip fracture, you'll have a rehabilitation programme that includes exercises to help improve your strength and mobility.

Your individualised programme will depend on your current level of fitness and mobility and may involve some of the following:

  • weight-bearing exercises – where your feet and legs support your weight, such as walking
  • non-weight-bearing exercises – where your feet and legs don't support your weight, such as swimming or cycling
  • treadmill exercises – such as walking at different speeds and inclines
  • intensive physical training – such as meeting with an exercise instructor three or more times a week to exercise
  • strength training and balance training – such as exercises where you use your body weight to build and strengthen muscles and joints, and exercises to improve your balance, stability and posture

It's extremely important that you follow your rehabilitation programme after a hip fracture to ensure you regain as much fitness and mobility as possible.

Care and support

It may be useful to read your guide to care and support - written for people with care and support needs, as well as their carers and relatives. It includes information and advice on care services in your home and moving and handling the person you care for.

Age UK

Age UK, a charity for older people, has more useful information and advice about healthy bones and keeping fit.

Page last reviewed: 18/07/2014

Next review due: 18/07/2016