Thursday, December 02, 2021

How Long Does it Take for a Bone Injury to Heal?

When you experience a broken bone, also known as a fracture, the first question that comes to your mind is how long it takes until your injury heals. Although the human body has an incredible ability to regrow new bone after a fracture, the healing time varies and depends on a series of factors.

In most cases, a bone injury occurs following physical trauma or overuse. However, age and medical conditions such as osteoporosis or cancer may also be responsible for painful and unwanted bone fractures.

We will further take a deeper look into how fast a bone fracture heals and the key factors that influence this natural process.

How Does a Fractured Bone Heal?

As soon as a bone is fractured, the natural healing process begins. The body starts to protect the injured area by forming a blood clot and callus around the fracture. At the same time, new bone cells start to grow along the fracture line. These new bone cells, known as osteoblasts, will eventually replace the callus entirely within a few months.

The new bone tissue will be thicker than the previous one, making it more difficult to break it in the same spot.

It is important to keep in mind that bone fractures heal differently depending on age, lifestyle, state of health, or severity of the fracture and its location. In some cases, surgical intervention might be required instead of just immobilizing the fracture with a cast or splint.

The Bone Healing Phases

The fracture healing process includes three stages:

Inflammatory Stage

This stage lasts for about a week and involves the formation of a hematoma at the injury location.  
Reparatory Stage

The reparatory phase starts one or two days from the fracture and lasts for up to three weeks. During this stage, the callus begins to develop along the fracture line, thus stabilizing the bone.

Remodeling Stage

During this phase, the newly formed solid bone tissue will replace the callus. Blood circulation improves at the fracture location also, and this stage lasts for several months after the bone fracture occurs.

How Fast Does a Bone Fracture Heal?

Typically, a broken bone takes between 6 to 12 weeks to heal. However, children’s bones heal much faster than the bones of adults.

Also, when it comes to bigger and heavier bones such as the thigh bone (femur) or the shin bone (tibia), the healing process might take up to 5 months.

For the elderly, things are a little bit different. Due to age, the bones of the elderly are more fragile and tend to heal slower than those of younger people. Moreover, even if it is completely healed, the bone is prone to new fractures due to its fragility.

How Can I Speed Up the Healing Process?

Although a bone fracture usually takes time to heal, there are some steps to follow to speed up the process:

Immobilize the fracture - It is essential to keep a broken bone as stable as possible to ensure proper healing and regrowth. The orthopedist will give you a cast, splint, or boot to help you keep the bones in place during the healing process. Remember not to remove the immobilizing device without your physician’s approval.

Avoid high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids - During the healing process after a bone fracture, try to avoid medication such as corticosteroids or anti-inflammatories. These medicines will slow down the healing process.

Manage medical conditions - Conditions such as diabetes or thyroid disorders slow down the healing process after a bone fracture. Osteoporosis and anemia also negatively affect the healing process. Make sure you treat these diseases appropriately so you can heal faster.

Quit smoking - Tobacco products inhibit blood flow, thus significantly slowing down the healing process after a bone fracture. If you smoke, consider quitting.

Maintain proper nutrition - The bone fracture healing process requires an optimal dose of minerals and vitamins, so it is important to have a balanced diet with healthy food.

Physical therapy - After your fracture has healed, your physician will prescribe physical therapy to help prevent stiffness, lingering pain, or muscle weakness. Make sure you don’t miss those sessions.

Final Thoughts

Bone fractures represent a break in the continuity of a bone. They range from small cracks to complete breaks and are unwanted events that negatively affect health, especially for the elderly. The most common causes of bone fractures are physical trauma, overuse, or disorders like osteoporosis.

The human body possesses an incredible healing power, but sometimes medical intervention is required. Bone fractures need medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

It is recommended to get in touch with medical physicians who are experienced in diagnostics and orthopedic care. If you suffered physical trauma and all symptoms point towards a bone fracture, schedule an appointment and let certified professionals help you heal and recover faster. If you need high-quality orthopedic medical assistance, you can find more information here.

This is a guest blog entry.

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