Many of us have broken a bone in our lifetime. Perhaps you have recently suffered from a fractureand you are wondering how long it takes for these to heal and also what are the steps to restoring full mobility in the area affected. Today’s author is Chartered Physiotherapist Eoin Keating, who works in our clinics in Macroom and Mahon, Cork. Eoin will answer the questions asked above…
So I Have Broken a Bone…What Happens Next?
Most people are of the opinion a broken bone in their hand, arm of leg will require 4-6 weeks in a cast, which will then have them back to the way they were before they injured themselves. It does take between 4-6 weeks for a bone to heal but during that time of your limb being immobilised you will lose muscle bulk, joint range of motion and you will potentially have pain and stiffness in the associated soft tissue areas. Physiotherapy can help speed up recovery by reducing pain and swelling, restoring muscle function and normal joint range of motion.
Two to Four Weeks After Breaking a Bone
Once you have reached the 2 week mark and your consultant is happy with the healing taking place at the fracture site, then they will clear you to begin physiotherapy. Early physiotherapy intervention will involve gentle passive movements in order to restore normal range of movement around the fracture site and affected joints. Other early aims of physiotherapy at this stage are to control pain and swelling. Soft tissue mobilisation of the surrounding muscles and tendons will increase blood flow to the area and help reduce swelling, aid break down of scar tissue as well as preventing muscle tightness. It is also important to keep related joints mobile. For example a fractured bone in the forearm can lead to a stiff shoulder after a number of weeks in a sling.
At the 3-4 week stage the patient will begin to take a more active role in their recovery and begin doing some active assisted exercises and some light strengthening work depending on their pain level. This is to recondition the muscles which will have weakened due to being immobilised. Dry needling and some electrotherapy modalities may also be introduced as part of the treatment plan at this stage.
Four to Six Weeks After Breaking a Bone
By 4-6 weeks your fractured bone will have healed but the bone will continue to strengthen for months to come. Physiotherapy at this stage will focus on restoring the function of the damaged muscles, bones and joints to their previous level. This will involve a combination of more intensive manual therapy techniques and a home exercise plan of muscle reconditioning exercises.
So if you have been unfortunate enough to suffer from a recent fracture, keep in mind that early physiotherapy treatment is extremely important in ensuring you make a full recovery and indeed will help to make in reducing pain and discomfort from inactivity and immobility. So having read this, if you think you need to come in and see us please feel free to book an appointment with us today and we can begin the rehabilitation process with you.
Thanks to Eoin Keating for writing this today’s post. If you would like to be treated by Eoin be sure to mention his name to our patient services team when booking an appointment !