bone fracture

Time for bone to heal?

How long for a bone to heal?

How long for a bone to heal? 600 449 Ace Health Centre

How long for a bone to heal?

Time for bone to heal? So, you’ve just broken a bone. Not only having to deal with the pain associated with it, you have to wear a cast and potentially may need surgery. We are given general time frames as to when the bone will heal. But what does this process entail and why are we told 6-8 weeks for bone healing? Bone healing occurs over 5 phases. Initially we will see tissue destruction and haematoma formation (blood clot). Followed by inflammation. Soft bone formation. Hard bone formation, and finally a remodelling phase.

Haematoma formation and inflammation

Within the first week following a broken bone the body will respond by creating a blood clot. This is to provide the bone with increased blood supply and nutrients. Within the blood other responses occur to help begin clearing out dead bone fragments. As well we will see growth factors influence the bone to begin bone healing. Furthermore we will also see increased formation of blood vessels within the blood clot to help supply the area with the needed nutrients.  Similar to tissue healing this is the beginning of the healing phase, and starts from the beginning of injury and may overlap with the next stages of recovery.  This phase can last up to a week before moving on to the next phase.

Soft and hard bone formation

Now following the initial phase and the cleaning of dead bone fragments, the body will begin to form a connection between the two bone ends.  It does this by creating a soft bone made of cartilage in order to help stabilise the break.  From this increased stability the bone is able to continue with the healing process, and will continue to use the methods used in phase one and two to progress to a healthy bone.  As the process continues the soft or cartilaginous bone shifts to a harder bone (trabecular).  This bone will now be evident on imaging and appear swollen with respect to the rest of the bone.  These phases of the healing process can last up to 3 months.  Within this stage you may be given the all clear from your doctor to remove any casts and begin using the affected area again.

Remodelling phase of bone healing

Within the remodelling phase you may have been given the go ahead from your doctor already to start using the area again in a safe manner.  This phase can be simply put as a use it to improve it principle.  As bone is formed around the injury, it constantly reshapes itself to provide more support where its needed.  This phase can last up to 2 years.  This length of time will not prevent you from doing the things you enjoy. Although it is important to understand that although we are back to activity, the bone is still recovering.

It is important to note that with bone healing you should always listen to the advice of your doctor as to when you can return to activity.  Furthermore, it is important to work with physiotherapists to help prevent other complications. Complications may arise, as well as maintain movement in the surrounding areas.

 

Following this a physiotherapist can begin to progress exercises to further strengthen the area and mobility following the prolonged time of inactivity. Contact us today and see how we can help you.