All broken bones in the body undergo a natural healing process. Bone healing is a slow process and can take up to 8 weeks. Immobilization and compression is necessary for optimal bone healing.
There are four phases of bone healing
- Inflammation: occurs within the first 48 hours. Swelling can help provide stability
- Soft callus: occurs during the first two months. Fibrous tissue and cartilage tissue develop at the ends of the fracture site
- Hard Callus: occurs during the 3rd and 4th month. The soft callus is replaced with bone and is visible on x-ray
- Bone remodeling: Lasts for several months. The bone continues to return to its normal shape. Bone can regenerate back to 100% of its strength after a fracture
At Foot & Ankle Doctors, Inc we like to immobilize patients with fractures. Immobilization is an important part in promoting bone healing. Depending on the type of fracture a surgical shoe or boot may be used. In more severe cases surgery may be needed to fixate the fracture site with screws, plates or wires. A cast will be applied afterwards and physical therapy recommended once the bone is adequately healed.
Factors that Impair Bone Healing
- Early weight bearing
- Fracture ends greater than 1cm apart
- Poor nutrition
- Certain medications
If bone healing is slow or delayed, our physicians can provide a variety of treatments to enhance bone growth such as bone stimulators, use of bone growth proteins and bone grafts.