When you’ve broken bones in your body you’ll hopefully have had consultation with your doctor and/or surgeon who will advise and work to ensure you get your body into a position for recovery. Often this means re-positioning the bones and securing them with a cast or even surgery to work internally to fix them into the correct place with screws and sometimes framework. They’ll then advise on a plan for physical rehabilitation, and the task comes to you to care for yourself in terms of movement and weight bearing etc – often what is forgotten or not fully understood is that your body then has a complex process of healing to pass through.
Here we’ll briefly explore the bone healing process and in the following article we’ll look at the things that can be done to ensure it happens as fast and thoroughly as possible with the help of functional nutrition, optimised for bone repair.
First, a little bit of biology. Bone repair goes through 4 key stages:
- Inflammation Stage: This is when bleeding between the broken bones bridges the gaps, and ensures blood flow remains across the bone. Over the first 10 days granulation tissue forms a scaffold across the break and allows the Soft Callus Formation stage to begin.
- Soft Callus Formation Stage: For the next 4 weeks granulation tissue is strengthened by a spongy cartilage material. It remains weak for 6 weeks after the break and so often weight and movement must remain restricted. Around this time the first Osteoblasts are formed at the surface, which is the beginning of the new bone structure.
- Hard Callus Formation Stage: This is the final stage where soft cartilage develops into woven bone material. For upper body this is usually another 6 weeks but for larger lower body bones can take a further 12 weeks. Mineral compounds such as Calcium and Phosphate assist in hardening the bone so the introduction of weight and rehabilitation of surrounding muscle and ligament can commence.
- Bone Remodelling Stage: Bone repair will leave a swollen area along the joint, which in time is gradually repaired and strengthened. Activities such as sport encourage bone repair and woven bone is replaced with a harder Lamellar bone over several months or years.
It’s important to understand that this process is lengthy and requires good nutrition and health throughout the process, returning to habits like drinking and smoking as soon as the cast comes off would be a bad idea for the long term strength of your repair.