“I was in a car accident a few years ago, and I broke my leg. The doctors said that it would take about six weeks to heal, but it ended up taking much longer. My bone just wasn’t healing properly. I went through a lot of pain and frustration. I couldn’t walk, and I had to use crutches or a wheelchair. I couldn’t go back to work, and I had to cancel all of my plans. I was starting to get really depressed.
Finally, after about three months, my bone started to heal. I was so happy! I could finally walk again, and I could start to get my life back. I’m still not 100%, but I’m so much better than I was before. I’m so grateful to the doctors who helped me, and I’m so glad that I’m finally able to move on with my life.”
This patient’s story is a reminder that bone healing can be a long and difficult process. However, with the right care and support, it is possible to recover from even the most serious injuries.
How Does a Bone Heal?
Broken bones all go through the same process as they heal. This is true whether a bone has been cut during surgery or broken because of an accident.
There are three steps of bone repair that all happen at the same time: inflammation, bone production, and reshaping.
- When a bone breaks, inflammation starts right away and lasts for a few days. When a bone breaks, there is bleeding into the area, which causes swelling and blood clotting at the break. This gives the body the structure and base it needs to start making new bones.
- When inflammation causes blood to clot, flexible tissue and cartilage (called “soft callus”) grow in its place. This is the start of bone production. As repair goes on, the soft callus is replaced by hard bone (called “hard callus”), which can be seen on an x-ray a few weeks after the break.
- The last step in fixing bones is called reshaping, and it takes a few months to finish. During rebuilding, bone keeps getting bigger and denser, going back to its previous shape. Also, the Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome and the blood flow in the area get better. Once the bone has healed enough, weight-bearing activities like standing or walking help the bone change.
How Long Does Bone Healing Take?
It’s a complicated process for bones to heal. Speed and results vary from person to person. How long it takes for a bone to heal depends on many things, such as the type of fracture, the patient’s age, any existing medical conditions, and how well they are eating.
In most cases, it takes 6 to 8 weeks for a bone to heal enough to be useful again. Most of the time, children’s bones heal faster than adults. When the patient is ready to put weight on the area, the foot and ankle surgeon will decide. This will rely on where the fracture is and how bad it is, as well as the type of surgery done and other factors.
What Helps Promote Bone Healing?
If a bone is going to be cut during surgery, there are things that can be done before and after the surgery to help the bone heal better. The surgeon might give tips on what to eat and what vitamins to take to help bones grow. It is important for people with diabetes to stop smoking and keep their blood sugar levels under control. Bone healing is slowed down by smoking and high glucose levels.
Immobilization is an important part of treatment for all people with broken bones because any movement of the broken pieces of bone slows down the initial healing process. Depending on the type of fracture and the surgery, the surgeon may fix the broken bone with pins, plates, or wires and/or put a cast on the bone to keep it from moving. During the time of immobilization, the surgeon will tell you how much weight you can put on your leg.
Once the bone has healed enough, physical treatment is often a big part of getting better. A routine of exercises created for the patient can help him or her recover strength and balance and get back to normal life.
What Can Hinder Bone Healing Do?
Bone Healing can be slowed down by a lot of different things. These things are:
- Movement of the broken bones; holding weight too soon
- Smoking, which makes the blood veins narrow and slows blood flow,
- Diabetes, trouble with hormones, or arterial disease are examples of medical issues.
- Some medicines, like prednisone and other immunosuppressants
- Fractures that are big, hard to fix, or get sick
- Getting old
- Lack of food or a slow metabolism
How Can Slow Healing Be Treated?
If the bone doesn’t heal as well as expected or doesn’t heal at all, the foot and ankle surgeon can choose from a number of ways to help it grow, such as keeping the foot or ankle immobile for a longer time, stimulating bone growth, or doing surgery with bone grafting or bone growth proteins.