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BROKEN BONE HEALING TIME - HOW LONG TO EXPECT

 

The following is an estimate by body part to how long it will take for a broken bone in that area to heal.

Broken Collar bone (clavicle): 3-8 weeks.
Broken Shoulder blade (scapula): 6 weeks.
Broken Ribs: 4 weeks.
Broken Upper arm (humerus): 4-10 weeks.
Broken Lower arm (radius,ulna): 6 weeks.
Broken Wrist: 4-12 weeks.
Broken Fingers: 4-6 weeks.
Broken Pelvis: 4 - 6 weeks.
Broken Upper leg (femur): 12 weeks.
Broken Knee (patella): 4-6 weeks. 
Broken Lower leg (tibia,fibula): 10-24 weeks. 
Broken Ankle: 6 weeks. 
Broken Foot: 3 - 12 weeks. 
Broken Toes: 3 weeks. 

You'll notice that legs take the longest, all things being equal, to heal. That is because they support the full weight of your body so they need to be pretty sturdy before you can start using them again post fracture.

What helps Broken Bones heal faster? 

There is a bit of asymmetry in this question. There's not much you can do to speed up bone healing any more than you speed up growing as a kid, but there's a lot you can do to retard bone healing. 

Immobility of the affected fracture is paramount. That's why we'll slap you in a cast in the ER. That's to ensure that you stop moving the broken bone. If you insist on taking if off early, or weight bearing when we say bedrest, you will have a poor and prolonged outcome. 

Nutrition also plays a role. But most people in Western society get enough calcium and protein from their diet not to worry, except in less common cases such as alcoholics and addicts where low nutritional value substances are inculcated in preference to food. 

Smoking cigarettes can also retard bone healing. The toxins from them and reduced oxygen exchange will slow bone healing. 

Do broken bones hurt while healing? 

Generally yes. Moreso for larger fractures, and more so for joints that you can't stop using like ribs. 

What are Broken Bone Symptoms?

 

  • Pain when you move the broken area.

  • Bruising of the skin above from blood issuing from the fracture below.

  • Swelling over the broken bone site.

  • Tenderness over the broken bone.

  • Sometimes shortening of the broken limb from overlapping of the two ends of the bone.

  • Snapping bone sound at injury or grating sound of bone ends rubbing after.

  • Unable to support your weight standing with fractures from the waist down.

  • Something hard pushing up the skin or through it.

The above being said, I've been fooled many times in my medical career. Logic and optics are no substitute for an x ray. I've seen a client hit his thumb direct on with a mallet and suffer no fracture. And I've seen patients that bounced their toe on a table leg still walking around ok with a significant break on xray. 

When you break a bone your body floods you with pain signals to force you to rest the broken bone so it can heal without interference. You should listen to your body. It know more than you know.