Does a Broken Bone Hurt When Healing?

Pain is your body’s natural response when you break one of your bones. Immediately after you suffer the injury, an intense ache or sharp pain is typically produced by both the fracture and by other injuries to your body near the fracture site. Unfortunately, the pain doesn’t stop there. You may also experience pain during the fracture healing process.40

The stages of pain during the healing process of a fracture

In general, there are three stages of pain following a bone fracture. These are referred to as acute pain, subacute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain usually occurs immediately after you suffer the injury. After about a week or two, the worst pain is usually over. What happens next is that the fractured bone and the surrounding soft tissue begin to heal. This takes a couple of weeks and the pain you might experience during this stage is called subacute pain. The last stage of pain is chronic pain. This type of pain continues long after the fracture and soft tissues may have healed.39

All fractures cause either all or some of these types of pain.

Acute pain immediately after the injury

Immediately after you suffer a fracture, you will experience acute pain. During this stage, medication is often prescribed to reduce the worst pain. The acute pain will decrease with time.39

After you’ve broken a bone, you may need surgery so the doctor can realign your broken bone, you may need a cast or other device to keep the broken bone immobile, or you may require some other medical treatment. No matter which method is used to treat your broken bone, the key is to realign the bone ends and immobilize the fracture for several weeks so the bone can set and heal properly.39

In order to make this stage of the healing process as smooth as possible, it is very important that you follow the instructions of your treating physician, especially about resting and avoiding unnecessary movements so your broken bone can heal properly.39

Subacute pain while the bone is healing

After about a week or two, the worst pain will be over. What happens next is that the fractured bone and the soft tissue around it start to heal. This takes a couple weeks and is called subacute pain.39

Subacute pain is mainly caused by the lack of movement that was necessary to help the bone heal. The inactivity may have stiffened the soft tissue around the injury and weakened the muscles. In addition to this, scarring and inflammation may have developed in the soft tissue while the fracture was healing. This may cause pain as well, and may make it difficult to move.39

Physical therapy is often recommended at this stage of recovery. Physical therapists may help you reduce the stiffness by providing exercises that also strengthen the weakened muscles and improve your range of motion. This will help to reduce pain and improve the function of your body that was affected by the injury.39

Chronic pain after the healing is complete

When you suffer a fracture, it will eventually heal and recover to the point that you no longer experience pain. Unfortunately, this does not happen for everyone. Some people may continue to experience pain long after the fracture and soft tissues have finished healing. This is what we call chronic pain.39

Chronic pain may be caused by nerve damage, the development of scar tissue, aggravation of underlying arthritis, or other causes. Luckily, this type of pain often can be treated. The type of treatment depends on the initial injury and the cause of your chronic pain.39

The most commonly used treatments for chronic pain are:39

  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Medication

These treatments are not guaranteed to resolve your pain, but they may help control and reduce the chronic pain. Most people are able to control their chronic pain, so they can get on with their day-to-day activities and enjoy a better quality of life.

However, for a small fraction of people who experience persistent, chronic pain, the pain may be one symptom that the broken bone is not healing properly. Other symptoms may include bone tenderness, swelling, and an aching pain felt deep within the bone.41

Most broken bones will heal if they have been properly aligned and immobilized. However, in order to heal, broken bones need an adequate supply of blood flowing to the site. Any condition that may impair blood flow to the fracture site may delay the bone healing or keep the bone from healing.41

If your broken bone isn’t healing in a timely fashion, EXOGEN may be right for you

One proven way to accelerate the bone healing process is with daily ultrasound stimulation of the broken bone tissue. EXOGEN is a device that delivers a low level of ultrasound waves to your broken bone. This stimulation has been shown to help speed up the processes involved in bone healing.*33,34

Read more about how EXOGEN´s bone stimulator works here, and find out if it’s right for you.

*The clinical relevance of in vivo findings is unknown

Summary of Indications for Use
EXOGEN is indicated for the non-invasive treatment of osseous defects (excluding vertebra and skull) that includes the treatment of delayed unions, nonunions,* stress fractures and joint fusion. EXOGEN is also indicated for the acceleration of fresh fracture heal time, repair following osteotomy, repair in bone transport procedures and repair in distraction osteogenesis procedures.

There are no known contraindications for the EXOGEN device. Safety and effectiveness have 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 in product labeling, at, or by calling Bioventus Customer Service.

*A nonunion is considered to be established when the fracture site shows no visibly progressive signs of healing.