Broken bones can heal by themselves, over time and given the correct circumstances.
Unfortunately, a fracture healing correctly is only a small percentage of the problem when managing a fracture. More on this later though. The importance initial medical treatment, when the fracture occurs or is diagnosed – is to make sure the pieces line up correctly. Some fractures may need surgery and or traction to set up the foundations for the best chance at correct re-alignment.
Depending on where the fracture is and how severe it is – treatment may include:
– Splint – to stop movement of the broken bones
– Brace – to support the bone, most common for foot fractures include wearing a “moon boot” for immobilisation
– Plaster cast – to provide support and immobilise the bone
– Surgery – metal rods, metal plates or wire to hold the pieces together.
The location of the fracture and the amount of weight that the bone normally bears will determine whether you have to change how you normally weight bear.
Examples of how your weight bearing could be changed include:
– put your arm in a sling to stop you putting weight through it
– given a walking aid to avoid/limit weight bearing through your leg.
For lower limbs fractures, it may be necessary to totally non-weight bear for the initial part of your healing.
This may then increase gradually to touch weight bearing, partial weight bearing and finally full weight bearing.
Rehabilitation After a Fracture
Although fractures heal by themselves (through the aid we talked about above mentioned above), the other tissues around the site of the fracture can be adversely affected.
Any joints that have been immobilised above and below the fracture become stiff. Muscles become tight and weak. Pain and swelling associated with the injury disturbs your joint awareness and balance systems. These deficits can remain long after your bone is strong again.
How Can Physio Help?
A physio will help you make sure any splints, moon boots, braces etc fit you correctly and are altered appropriately throughout your healing. They will help you progress through and safely master your most appropriate walking aid, depending on your weight bearing status, balance, upper body strength and home set up.
We will show you what exercises you should be doing to increase your range of movement, strength and joint awareness. These exercises will be progressed to help you return as quickly and safely as possible to the things you want to do. The difference in the speed and overall functional outcome of a poorly rehabbed fracture can be huge!
If you have recently suffered a fracture or have any interventions placed by a surgeon or are booked to see a surgeon to manage your fracture, book an appointment with a physio too. We can start you on a plan and provide you with the advice you need for the entire recovery process.
Save time and book online after reading this article, its easy to do!
Anthony Sheridan, myPhysioSA Associate Physiotherapist Mount Barker