How Does a Bone Heal?
All broken bones go through the same healing process. This is true whether a bone has been cut as part of a surgical procedure or fractured through an injury.
The bone healing process has three overlapping stages: inflammation, bone production and bone remodeling.
Inflammation starts immediately after the bone is fractured and lasts for several days. When the bone is fractured, there is bleeding into the area, leading to inflammation and clotting of blood at the fracture site. This provides the initial structural stability and framework for producing new bone.
Diagram of inflammation in a fractured bone
Bone production begins when the clotted blood formed by inflammation is replaced with fibrous tissue and cartilage (known as soft callus). As healing progresses, the soft callus is replaced with hard bone (known as hard callus), which is visible on x-rays several weeks after the fracture.
Bone remodeling, the final phase of bone healing, goes on for several months. In remodeling, bone continues to form and becomes compact, returning to its original shape. In addition, blood circulation in the area improves. Once adequate bone healing has occurred, weightbearing (such as standing or walking) encourages bone remodeling.