How fracture healing happens2, 3, 12

Bone fracture healing is a complex process with four steps. All bone fractures must go through this process.

Step 1: Inflammation

When a bone fractures, white blood cells move in to the area to clean up debris created by the break. This creates inflammation, which triggers the growth of new blood cells — the first stage of healing.

Soft Callus

Step 2: Soft callus

As blood cells divide and multiply near the break, new blood vessels develop to fuel the repair process. The body also begins to create cartilage around the bone fracture to bridge the gap in the bone. Called the soft callus, this cartilage is simply fibrous tissue.

Step 3: Hard callus

Eventually, the body replaces the soft callus with a hard callus, connecting the bone fragments more solidly. This stronger callus, which creates a bulge at the site of the fracture, can generally be seen in X-rays just a few weeks after the bone fracture occurs.

Step 4: Remodeling

In the final stage of bone fracture healing, the body replaces old bone with new bone in a continual process called remodeling. Remodeling makes bones stronger and more compact and blood circulation in the bone improves.

When a patient breaks a bone, doctors take measures to encourage strong, quick repair. These measures include:

  • Setting and immobilizing the break. If necessary, a physician will move bone segments back into place before immobilizing the fracture using a cast or brace.
  • Surgery. Some patients may need surgery to set and stabilize a fracture — a process that can involve metal plates, screws or nails. If fractures do not show signs of healing, additional intervention is necessary. Some doctors choose to perform additional surgeries; others turn to devices like EXOGEN.
  • Bone growth stimulation. To help heal fractures, many doctors prescribe a device like EXOGEN — the only stimulator that uses ultrasound waves to stimulate the body’s natural healing process, helping boost bone growth.
  • Therapy. If a patient is in a cast for a long period of time, he or she may benefit from physical therapy to regain full use of stiff or weak muscles.

Patients can also take measures to speed healing. While healing is happening:

  • Avoid tobacco products, which can slow the healing process.
  • Eat a well balanced diet for the energy and nutrition healing bones need.
  • Increase your intake of calcium, which helps build strong bones.
  • Only take pain relievers as directed. Certain anti-inflammatory medications can inhibit your body’s ability to heal breaks.
  • Get plenty of rest. Your body is working hard to heal and needs recovery time.
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions to give yourself every opportunity for successful healing.

Want one more way to help speed bone fracture healing? Learn how EXOGEN may accelerate the process and whether it’s right for you.

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*Summary of Indications for Use: The EXOGEN Ultrasound Bone Healing System is indicated for the non-invasive treatment of established non-unions excluding skull and vertebra.

In addition, EXOGEN is indicated for accelerating the time to a healed fracture for fresh, closed, posteriorly displaced distal radius fractures and fresh, closed or Grade I open tibial diaphysis fractures in skeletally mature individuals when these fractures are orthopaedically managed by closed reduction and cast immobilization.

There are no known contraindications for the EXOGEN device. Safety and effectiveness has not been established for individuals lacking skeletal maturity; pregnant or nursing women; patients with cardiac pacemakers; on fractures due to bone cancer; or on patients with poor blood circulation or clotting problems. Some patients may be sensitive to the ultrasound gel. Full prescribing information can be found here or by contacting customer service at 800-396-4325.

A non-union is considered to be established when the fracture site shows no visibly progressive signs of healing.

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