How does it feel when a broken bone heals? (2023)

Like yoursbroken boneAs a healer, it should go through different phases, each with its own characteristics. The level and type of pain and other symptoms will change, as will your range of motion and strength. Knowing these stages and what you should feel when they happen can help you identify any abnormalities or complications early, so your doctor can treat them right away.

Broken bones usually take at least six weeks to heal, but for some it can take much longer.In the meantime, don't just wait for the healing process to occur; There are steps you can take to help your body repair the break and get back to full function.

How does it feel when a broken bone heals? (1)

Do I have a broken or bruised bone? So you know for sure.


swelling, orinflammation, starts right after a break. Inflammation gets a bad rap for being associated with injury and causing some of the pain you feel, but it's an essential part of the healing process.

Think of the scene of a traffic accident or fire as first responders rush to the area to help. The first responders come from your bodyimmune system, which goes into overdrive as soon as it detects the damage.

Your immune system uses a complex network of cells, hormones, and signals to create inflammation at the site of injury. Why? Because an injury needs blood, which carries oxygen, nutrients, and specialized immune system cells that can begin healing the injury immediately.

The healing time depends on:

  • Which bone did you break (smaller heals faster)
  • The severity of the fracture
  • How quickly and how effectively it is treated
  • how well you take care of it
  • The health of your bones and connective tissue
  • Whether you smoke, drink alcohol or suffer from nutrient deficiencies
  • your general health
  • Your age


Pain from a broken bone occurs in three stages:

  • acute pain
  • subacute pain
  • chronic pain

acute pain

Acute pain is the sudden, intense kind of "oh no, there's something really wrong" kind of pain you feel right after the breakup (or trauma of any kind). If you go to the hospital, you will likely be given strong painkillers to help you get through the worst.

In your body, the break has damaged sensitive nerves that send fast, sharp pain signals to the brain. Over the next few hours, cells at the rupture site release healing chemicals and signals that cause new nerves to form.

These new nerves cause sharp pain when you move the broken bone and dull, aching pain at rest.Think of the pain as a reminder not to use the injured part and the stabbing pain as an alarm system when you get injured.

Once you get over the acute pain and it comes back, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Maybe you bumped the bone or moved it in a way that hurt, or maybe it's not healing properly. You should inform your doctor of any unexplained return to the acute pain phase.

subacute pain

Your pain level should drop to the subacute level once the fracture is treated and begins to heal, and it will likely stay there for a few weeks. You may still be taking pain medication, but it may be a lower dose or weaker drug.

Part of the cause of subacute pain is the fracture—primarily the scarring and any residual inflammation—but much of it is due to the immobility needed for your bones to heal properly. The connective tissue becomes stiff and the muscles lose strength. You can also lose bone mass.

All of these factors can contribute to making you feel faint the first time you try to use the broken part. If it's your leg, you may feel like it's not supporting you. If it's your arm or wrist, you may not be able to lift or grip anything firmly.

At some point during this phase, your doctor will likely encourage you to exercise and stretch, and may let you beginphysical therapy. Be sure to follow guidance on what types of exercise are safe for you and how much activity is okay.

If all goes well, your bone will heal and your soft tissue will recover. Do you remember the nerves that grew during the acute phase? After a proper recovery, they should stop sending these signals and the lingering pain will go away. However, this does not happen in all cases.

Acute pain vs. subacute pain: the differences

physical therapy

A physical therapist can teach you the right movements to use at each stage of the healing process so you don't cause further damage. By helping you properly rehabilitate your muscles and connective tissues, they can reduce your pain, increase your strength, and help you heal as quickly as possible.

chronic pain

If the pain persists beyond the subacute phase, it is called painchronic pain. Many people never reach this stage, but for those who do, the pain lingers long after the injury has healed. It can be caused by:

  • nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • scar tissueDevelopment
  • underlying disease such as arthritis
  • Changes in the brain are mentionedcentral sensitization

What is a central sensitization?

Central sensitization is a change in the way your central nervous system (brain and spinal nerves) perceives a particular type of stimulus. In the event of a fracture, your nervous system continues to feel painful movement and use of the previously fractured bone, even after the tissue damage is gone.

Different healthcare providers use different metrics to determine when pain is chronic. However, many assume that the pain should have stopped about six months ago.If you have persistent pain for weeks or months after your fracture has healed and your soft tissues have rebuilt, let your doctor know. It could be that there is a long-term problem with the injury (nerve damage, scar tissue) or something else is causing your pain (undiagnosed arthritis, central sensitization).

Whatever the cause of your pain, you don't just have to be suffering. Your doctor should be able to help you identify effective ways to treat the underlying problem and relieve your pain.

The 6 most common chronic pain conditions

Helps in bone healing

A broken bone takes time to heal and depends on several factors, including your age, general health, diet, blood flow to the bone, and the type of treatment you receive. However, there are steps you can take to help your body recover from the break:

  • Stop smoking:Smoking changes blood flowon the bones, which can delay or prevent healing.
  • Eat a balanced diet:Bone healing requires more nutrients than just maintaining them. Make sure you're getting adequate nutrients from all food groups, especially calcium and vitamin A.B12,C, D and K(You only need to take the recommended doses. Taking more will not help.)
  • Treat chronic diseases: If you haveDiabetesIf you have a blood vessel disorder or a hormonal disorder, this can result in slower healing. Talk to your doctor about how to better manage your illness.
  • Beware of certain substances: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil/Motrin (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen) are commonly used to treat pain.and glucocorticoids, thePrednisonecan slow healing, which canimmunosuppressants.
  • Don't rush to use it: Too early movement and use of the injured body part can cause damage and make it difficult for the bone to heal.
  • Watch out for infection: If you notice an increase in pain, swelling, redness, and warmth around the fracture area, and especially if you have fever, chills, and discharge of pus, talk to your doctor right away so you can treat any infection.
  • Increases fracture healing: Ask your doctor about devices that can speed healing, such as bone growth stimulators,electrical stimulation,Andultrasonic treatment.

If you have a history of slow-healing fractures, have medical conditions that can make healing difficult, or have risk factors for slow healing, you can ask your doctor about medications that can speed up the healing process. Some treatments for osteoporosisIt is known to have this effect.

The most common fractures

The most common fracture in children is the collarbone (clavicle). For those over 75 years oldhip fractureare the most common. Other commonly broken bones include the wrist, arm, and ankle.

When to call a healthcare provider

If problems are identified early and treated promptly, delays in the healing process can be prevented. Contact your doctor if:

  • Your pain or inflammation suddenly increases
  • Your pain will continue for months or weeks after the bone has healed
  • You see signs of infection
  • You have a change in your health that may affect the healing process
  • They think the healing process is taking too long
  • You are not making the progress your doctor expected

frequently asked Questions

What Vitamins Help Heal Broken Bones?

Vitamins that support collagen production can aid in the healing of broken bones. Dietary supplements with vitamin C, lysine, proline and vitamin B6 have been shown to reduce symptoms and speed up the healing process.

Can a broken bone heal on its own without a cast?

It can be cured, but there is a great risk of not realigning it, which can lead to chronic pain and disability. A shaped one or a softer oneseemensures that the broken parts grow together properly and allows for faster healing.

How long does it take for a broken bone to heal?

It usually takes six to 12 weeks for a bone to heal, but it takes longer in hard-to-heal areas. For example, scaphoid fractures of the wrist can last six months. Children recover much faster than adults, with injuries taking the longest to heal in older adults.

A word from Verywell

The pain and reduced functionality that come with a broken bone can be difficult to manage. If you seek treatment right away, follow the advice of your medical team, and take steps to help your body heal, you can get through the disease without more pain and disability than necessary and get back to work as soon as possible.


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