How do Bones Heal After a Fracture?

bone healingThere are three key stages to bone regrowth after a fracture. These stages all overlap over the course of six to 12  weeks until the bone has repaired itself. Understanding the healing process can assist fracture patients in understanding what to expect as they go through the regrowth phase. Hampton Roads Orthopaedics, Spine & Sports Medicine wants patients to be comfortable with and understand the process of bone healing after a fracture.

Inflammation

Inflammation can be attributed to a rush of blood to the site of the fracture. The blood pools around the fracture to form what is referred to as a hematoma, or a clot. This clot serves as a stopper of sorts for the fracture site. Phagocytes, the specialized cells that clean bone fragments, get to work from within the clot. This stage provides the structural stability that will be necessary further down the line in repairing the break. The immune system also calls stem cells, marrow and extra blood to aid in this stage of the healing process.

Bone and Cartilage Production

The clotted bone surrounding the fracture is gradually replaced by soft callus, otherwise known as cartilage. This cartilage is composed primarily of collagen. This part of the healing can range in length from several days to a few weeks long and typically occurs relatively quickly following the break.

This cartilage is eventually replaced by new bone (or hard callus). It can be seen on X-rays and is much stronger than cartilage. Keeping that in mind, patients should note that hard callus is not real bone. Osteoblast cells within the hard callus create actual bone over time. While this and the cartilage preceding it are really two separate stages, there are often such an overlap between these phases that they’re lumped into one phase.

Bone Remodeling

Finally, after around 10 weeks on average, the very slow process of bone remodeling can begin. In some patients, this phase can take up to 10 years to come to an end. Bone remodeling consists of the fracture site returning to its original state. The bone becomes more compact, specialized cells shape it back into its original form, and blood circulation to the area improves markedly.

If you have recently dealt with a fracture and are seeking treatment, or just a greater understanding of what’s going on inside of your body,  contact us at Hampton Roads Orthopaedics Spine & Sports Medicine. Our specialists and physical therapists will work with you, from your initial diagnosis to full healing stages, to get you back to doing what you love.

 

2018-10-26T08:07:22+00:00October 26th, 2018|Blog, Orthopaedic|