How Broken Bones Heal

Broken bones healing

How broken/damaged bones heal

Broken bones are mostly caused due to accidents. Broken bones are often referred to as fractures. In general, fractures are healed by positioning the broken bone leg steady and unaltered in the same place.

As soon as a fracture occurs, the body initially tries to safeguard the injured area, therefore it forms a protective blood clot around the region of the fractured area.

After that, a pile of bone cells starts to grow on either side of the fracture line. These cells gradually grow and refill the depleted bone cells. This might take months for complete healing.

When the bone gets completely healed, the fracture closes. This healing process may even take up to a year depending upon the type of fracture.

Types of Bone healing:

According to the data given by the International Bone Research Association (IBRA), Bone healing can be done in three forms namely:

  • Inflammatory stage
  • Reparative stage
  • Remodelling stage

Inflammatory stage

Whenever a bone breaks, the human body instantly passes signals for special cells to reach the damaged/ injured area of the bone. These special cells cause the injured area to become inflamed like red, swollen, or blood clot around the injured area. This commands the body to stop using the injured part so that the body can start healing.

Apart from special cells, other cells that are not associated with the bone cells reach the injured area and form a blood clot (hematoma) around the broken bone. This is the first aid done internally by the body around the broken bone.

The Reparative stage

After a week of bone injury there comes a stage called the reparative stage. A type of soft bone called soft callus helps in the replacement of the blood clot that is produced in the inflammatory stage.

The callus rigidly holds the bone together, thus making it strong and sturdy to heal completely. After a few weeks, the soft callus gradually becomes harder. In the next 6 weeks, this becomes a hard callus that is strong enough for the entire body part to be used.

The Remodelling Stage

Now comes the third stage called the remodelling stage. This stage occurs 6 weeks after the injury. This is a stage where the regular bone is replaced by the hard callus. If you closely observe the X-ray of the healing bone, it would certainly look misshaped and uneven. But after the next few months, the broken bone gets completely reshaped and looks exactly like a typical bone of what it would look like before the injury.

Do splints and casts help broken bones to heal?

In the process of healing, casts and splints help in holding broken bones. As a result of this, a new hard bone forms within 3–6 weeks, and after that casts or splints disappears naturally.

What Can Affect Bone Healing?

Bone healing can be affected in the following ways:

  • has a severe break in the broken region
  • has damage to the muscles and nearby nerves in the area of the broken bone
  • has a vitamin deficiency around the broken bone
  • has been affected by medical conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, or anemia.
  • Too much consumption of alcohol
  • Relentless smoking

To recover faster from bone injury, an individual should avoid all the possible detrimental factors that disrupt bone healing and recovery of injured bones.

How should the child be treated while bone healing?

To accelerate the rate of recovery for your child with a broken bone, make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure to add plenty of calcium and vitamin D content in your food
  • Make additional care about the cast or splint
  • Strictly follow the exercise suggested by the health care providers or orthopedicians.
  • Make sure to keep distance from water in the initial stage of bone injury.

Complications involved in bone healing

Fractures that take a long time to heal generally occur at a rate of about 10 percent. The rate of such non-healing fractures is higher for people who smoke. The optimal reason for this cause is due to the inconstant growth of blood vessels in the healing bones.

Orthopedic surgeons can either use bone from some other areas of the body, bone from a donor, or physical materials like 3D printed bones in rare cases to fix the problem.

These surgeries are unnecessary in most cases as the bone itself recovers from the injury naturally. This means that the new bone automatically fills the injured bone without a trace or a scar.

Summing up

Special cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts plays a vital role in replacing the damaged cells in the fracture until they are completely healed and returned to the initial shape. Bone healing is a very dull process that may take anywhere from 2 to 5 years for complete healing. A broken bone is a common and treatable childhood injury. Most breaks heal successfully, and kids can recover from the injury very easily.

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