Bones have a lot of nerve connections running through them. Bone fractures, even small cracks in the bone, can be painful and frustrating. In many cases the most challenging aspect of a fracture is the time it takes to heal.
When a bone is fractured, there are actually three phases that will occur in the healing process. These are:
- Inflammation phase
- Reparative phase
- Remodeling phase
In the inflammation phase, specific cells are drawn into the injured area. Initially, these cells serve to clean up the location, and then repair cells will be drawn into the area. This inflammation is natural, but extended inflammation can cause pain and actually decrease the healing process.
The next phase is called the reparative phase. This phase doesn’t usually begin until approximately 2 weeks after the fracture. Proteins create what is called a soft callus on the damaged area. This will eventually become a hard callus as the bone heals.
The third phase is the remodeling phase. During this time the bone actually restructures on a cellular level. Physical therapy can be beneficial to the healing of fractures in two ways.
First of all, safe and specific exercises can actually speed up the healing process. Good circulation and blood flow to the injured area are extremely important. Specific exercises can help with range of motion and movement of the surrounding muscles and tendons without creating undo stress.
Secondly, research has shown that the use of therapeutic modalities can also accelerate healing. We use a special combination of ultrasound and electrical stimulation. This process decreases pain by reducing unnecessary inflammation. It also increases circulation to the area.
Along with rest, adequate nutrition and protection of the fractured area, physical therapy can help rebuild and restore – often in significantly less time! One of our patients shared the following:
“After cracking 2 ribs in a horse riding accident, my doctor told me it would take 6-8 weeks to heal and gave me a prescription for pain killers. Fortunately, with the special ultrasound/electrical stimulation treatments by Mark, I was completely healed 3 weeks later. Back on the horse even!”