Fracture: Leaving it half healed?
Most fractured (broken) bones will heal in usually six weeks. But that is only half of the problem.
Unfortunately when you have enough stress placed through your body to fracture a bone, there’s usually a lot of other soft tissues and structures that have been damaged in the process. Add to that the common use of immobilisation in plaster, you’ll have joint stiffness and considerable muscle weakness.
This may even effect joints that don’t seem related to the break. For example, a fractured shoulder may result in a very stiff elbow or wrist just because you were keeping your shoulder in a sling for a few weeks.
Fractures like most injuries, come in many forms from relatively minor fractures to major life threatening injuries. The following information will allow you to find out where your fracture fits in this continuum so you have a better understanding of what it is, how and why it occurred, what the healing process involves and what you can do to assist this process.
What is a Fracture?
A Fracture happens when there is a break in the continuity of a bone. It is common and on an average a person has two fractures, during a lifetime.
Most of the time, fractures are caused by a sudden injury that loads, stresses or pressurises the bone more than it can take – such as trauma from motorvehicle accidents or falls.
A Fracture may also be the result of some medical conditions which weaken the bones, for e.g. Osteoporosis, some cancers or osteomyelitis.
Your risk of fracture depends, in part, on your age. Broken bones are very common in childhood, though children fractures are generally less complicated than fractures in adults. Most human bones are surprisingly strong and can generally stand up to fairly strong forces. However, if that force is too powerful, or there is something wrong with the bone, it can fracture.
As you age, your bones become brittle and you are more likely to suffer fractures from falls that would not occur when you are young. The older we get the less force our bones can withstand.
Types of Fracture:
- Open/Compound fracture – when the bone breaks through the skin and damages the underlying tissue. Fractures that are open to the outside are more prone to infection.
- Closed/simple fracture – when bone breaks but the skin is intact showing no wound on the outside.
- Displaced fracture – when the bone cracks and/or moves away from its usual alignment.
- Non-displaced fracture – when the bone cracks but stays in alignment.
A broken bone requires Immediate Medical Attention for proper healing and alignment of bone. Following a fracture, the patient will first be managed by a doctor, who will decide on management option, be it conservative or surgical. Conservative management of broken bones can be done with immobilization with casting or splinting.
Most fractured bones usually take 6 weeks to heal but that is only half of the problem.
Treatment Of Fractures (Post CAST Removal) : Do not leave it half healed!
A lot of soft tissues and structures gets damaged due to fracture and after immobilization in plaster for several weeks, you tend to get pain, joint stiffness and considerable muscle weakness. This may even affect other joints as well resulting into hindrance in dailiy activities.
Physiotherapy Rehab is required to regain the muscle strength and function.
When Should You Start Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is often recommended by doctors to accelerate the healing process once bone is aligned. Physiotherapy manipulation, electrotherapy, joint mobilization techniques and exercises will aid strengthening the bone and the surrounding tissue. This process will help the patient recovery by accelerating healing, reduce pain and swelling, and improve range of motion.
The type of therapy will, of course, differ based on the type of fracture. But in general, therapy begins when the cast is removed. Strengthening and aggressive range of motion exercises usually must wait until the bone has healed. The Physiotherapist may also assess the requirement and suggest and train you to use assistive devices during the recovery. Gait training is also done wherever, required.
- Seek treatment at an early stage
- Ensure your physiotherapist provides you with home exercises.
Please contact one of our clinics directly for advice specific to your fracture. You can make an appointment with ReLiva Physiotherapy & Rehab at any stage. This is especially important if you believe you are not making satisfactory progress in your recovery, or if your mobility is compromised.