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The Benefits of Physical Therapy After a Fracture

If you recently broke a boke, known medically as a fracture, the services of a physical therapist can greatly benefit you. With the help of a skilled physical therapist, you are likely to heal from a fracture faster and recover more completely in the long-run.

What to Expect Following a Fracture

In order to stabilize a broken bone and encourage it to reform properly, a doctor will usually mandate the assistance of a cast. For less intense fractures, a doctor may apply a removable cast allowing for limited motion. A sling, crutches, or a cane may also be required depending on whether the fraction occurred in the arm or leg. In more serious cases, surgery may also be required to help the bone heal properly.

Your doctor may order you to attend physical therapy following a fracture, or they may suggest that you seek treatment from a skilled physical therapist to improve recovery. The duration of the physical therapy will depend on the severity of the break and where it occurred. Most physical rehabilitation programs last anywhere between 6-8 weeks, though every patient’s circumstances are different. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy during various parts of the healing process, from post-surgery, to the time the fracture first starts to heal, to later in the process when your cast is removed.

Beginning Physical Therapy for a Fracture

If you require a cane or crutches following a fracture, one of the first things your physical therapist will do is show you the best way to walk with the device. This may include instructions on how to get in and out of a vehicle, walk up and down stairs, or just generally stay mobile from day to day. Understanding how much weight you can put on a broken leg is crucial, and a knowledgeable physical therapist will be able to instruct you on how to best get around without putting undue pressure on your fractured limb.

In the case of a broken arm, your physical therapist may show you the best way to get in and out of a sling. A physical therapist can also show you how to use a brace in instances where a cast has come off but your bone is not completely healed. Figuring out how much weight you can lift during this time is also essential.

Your physical therapist will be monitoring various factors to make sure your broken bone is healing correctly. Depending on your physical therapist’s assessment, you may require more or less treatment based on measurements and evaluations of body parts and joints surrounding the fracture.

Factors your physical therapist will monitor include:

  • Range of motion
  • Strength
  • Pain index
  • Flexibility
  • Swelling
  • Gait
  • Functionality/mobility
  • Appearance of scars (in cases where the fracture resulted in surgery)

A practiced physical therapist will be able to help you reduce pain and swelling in your broken bones and keep your muscles strong during the healing process. Massage may also be required for patients who experience surgical scar tissue following a procedure for a more serious injury. In addition to helping you heal in the weeks following your fracture, the main goal of a physical therapist is to ensure long-term mobility, with your broken bone returning to its full strength and your everyday functionality remaining at a normal level.

Types of Fractures that Can Be Treated with Physical Therapy

A bone’s breaking point and the force that led to the break depend on the classification of the fracture. Different types of treatment will be used for a bone that cracks vs. one that breaks all the way through vs. one that shatters.

A physical therapist can treat the following types of fractures:

  • Stable Fracture: This refers to a fracture that requires a brace and rest. It is one of the most common types of broken bones.
  • Stress Fracture: This type of fracture refers to tiny cracks in the bone, usually caused by repetitive stress or force. Although they are usually low-risk and can heal on their own, they may require additional treatment depending on where they occur in the body.
  • Oblique Fracture: Another fairly common type of fracture, this refers to a diagonal break in the bone. This type of fracture can vary in severity, depending on how large the break is.
  • Transverse Fracture: This refers to a fracture in which the break is perpendicular to the length of the bone.
  • Open/Compound Fracture: This refers to a fracture involving an open wound or break in the skin around the broken bone. It most often occurs when a fragment of the bone breaks through the skin during an injury. This type of fracture is very serious and will definitely require the assistance of a physical therapist.
  • Comminuted Fracture: This refers to a fracture where the bone breaks or splinters into more than two fragments. A lot of force is required to cause a comminuted fracture, which is why they are often the result of serious traumas, such as car accidents.
  • Unstable Fracture: This refers to a fracture involving the three columns of the spine. Unstable fractures are serious and often prevent mobility. Like most spinal injuries, they usually require therapy.

Trusted Physical Therapy in Houston

Although many people make the informed decision to seek treatment following a fracture, too often injured individuals avoid physical therapy and end up suffering for it down the line. If you have recently experienced a mild or severe fracture, physical therapy for broken bones is not only a good safety precaution but can actually be important for returning to the same physical condition you were in before the injury. At QualCare Rehab, our Houston physical therapists offer multiple treatments for many types of injuries. With physicians, chiropractors, and other pain management professionals on our team, we have the skills and resources to treat your fracture in a holistic way. At QualCare Rehab, fast and complete recovery is possible. Call today to see what a QualCare specialist can do for you.

Contact us by phone at (713) 588-0042, or send us a message online.