Broken bones are painful, there’s no doubt about that. Thankfully, though, bones can heal themselves, it just takes some time. But, there are some things you can do to help aid in the healing process, and they might just speed it up. Before we get to that, though, it’s important to understand how broken bones heal.
Everyone knows that when someone has a broken bone, they typically get a cast and keep it on for weeks or even months to let the bone heal. But what is going on underneath the cast that returns the bone to someone whole and unbroken?
When a bone is broken, a doctor will align the bone and pace a cast. This cast holds the bone in the correct position so that it can heal properly.
Within the first few days after the bone is broken, the body forms a blood clot around the broken area. Not only does this protect the broken area from further harm, but it also helps to deliver the cells that are needed to heal it.
With the delivery of those cells, a healing tissue, called a callus, forms around the broken bone. The callus is soft at first but hardens as the weeks go by.
On each side of the fracture line grow new “threads” of bone cells. These bone cells grow towards each other, closing the fracture line. Once the fracture closes completely, the callus is absorbed by the body.
How long a broken bone takes to heal will depend on the severity of the break. Lower arm and wrist fractures may take only six weeks to heal, while leg breaks may take six months. However, there are some good habits to adopt that may help with the healing process.
The best thing you can do to speed up the process of healing a broken bone is follow the doctor’s orders; this includes taking care of your cast or splint and resting. One of the most important factors in healing a broken bone quickly and safely is keeping those bone fragments from moving. That is why a cast is put in place to secure the bone, but sometimes your surgeon may use other options such as wires, screws, or plates.
If your doctor also recommended exercises, it’s important to do these to promote bone healing and speed up the process. Physical therapy, and all other types of exercise, help increase your blood flow, which is essential for bone repair. However, it is important to follow the exercises set by your doctor or physical therapist. If you try to overexert yourself too soon you may cause more harm.
Another thing that might help speed up the healing process is eating a healthy diet. In particular, focus on eating plenty of foods with calcium and vitamin D because these two elements play a key role in bone health. By eating a diet full of them, you can help get your bones the vitamins and minerals they need to heal and piece themselves back together.
Foods rich in calcium or vitamin D include:
It is also important to avoid smoking as this can have a negative impact on bone health. In fact, a study found that smoking may delay how long it takes for the bone to heal or prevent it from healing entirely.
If you think that you may have a broken bone, the most important diagnostic test is an x-ray. Book an appointment online at One Step Diagnostic, and we can help you schedule an appointment.