A bone fracture forces the body to take a break. For everything to be in order, this pause must last until the bone is truly healed. Starting the sport too soon is dangerous. In the following article, I will explain what factors influence this break’s duration and how to resume sport afterward.
The query about how long sport after a fracture is stopped is not completely resolved, as this relies heavily on the form and severity of the fracture. The physician must measure the duration of the forced split which the bone has to repair on a case-by-case foundation. Unfortunately, 100 percent following a fracture cannot return to exercise, and even activities will have to be adjusted.
Not all fractures are the same
A large number of fractures heal in a few weeks, allowing a total return to sport.
However, some fractures are complex and require more time to allow a return to sport, and patients may not even be able to fully return to their original sport. For example, a decisive factor is the proximity of the fracture of a joint or the possible destruction of a joint surface. Joint fractures are more complex and carry a risk of developing osteoarthritis. Fractures that interfere with the blood supply to neighboring bones, such as a fracture of the shoulder or the femoral head, or with significant displacement of bone fragments, are also serious. Occasionally, bone parts subsequently necrosis, which can lead to sports restrictions. Likewise, a comminuted fracture is more complex than a sharp or spiral fracture of the bone.
A stress fracture is a special case. It occurs following chronic overuse or circulatory disorders of a diseased bone and not following an accident. This type of fracture always has a history, the chronic problem of which cannot be resolved quickly. After a stress fracture, patients must accept a longer rehabilitation period than patients with a fracture of healthy bone resulting from shock.
The bone needs time.
Regardless of the type of treatment, a broken bone needs time to heal. The healing time is in principle the same, whether the fracture is immobilized by a cast or operated. The treatment method depends much more on the position of the fracture or the stability. An operation has the advantage of being able to regain certain operating stability more quickly. Therefore, the patient can move a neighboring joint earlier and thus lose less muscle mass during his convalescence.
The bone must be spared and relieved for a few weeks to re-weld properly and stably. The doctor determines the duration of convalescence according to the fracture type and then checks using X-rays whether the treatment has been effective. If this is the case, the patient can begin physiotherapy to exercise mobility in their joints and build muscle. After six weeks of rest, two to three weekly physiotherapy sessions are needed continuously to stimulate muscle consolidation. In nearly 80% of fracture cases, muscle and mobility rehabilitation is possible after ten to twelve weeks. Depending on the extremity affected by the fracture, it is also possible to maintain mobility and musculature of the unaffected extremities by practicing exercises.
Consolidate muscles before working the condition
It is important not to resume sport until you have consolidated the muscles. Thus, resuming jogging before the fracture is completely healed causes overuse. The risk of a new fracture or failure of the plates and screws used is then high.
If the muscles are consolidated, and the doctor and physiotherapist have given their approval, it is possible to resume jogging slowly, preferably on soft ground, starting with short distances and gradually. There are also sports better suited to convalescence: after a broken leg, cycling or rowing are suitable for improving physical condition. If swimming is also perfectly suitable, it all depends on the fracture: in the event of a fracture near the knee joint, the breaststroke is contraindicated, while the crawl places less stress on the bone.
At the start of a reconditioning training, it is better to give up intensive training in running or sports that require frequent stops and starts. For contact sports, it is better to start only when the muscles’ consolidation makes it possible to practice without restriction conventional sports.
The ideal is to stay in constant contact with your doctor and physiotherapist, who will advise you appropriately and tell you when you can start playing a particular sport.
Possibly change sport
As I have already mentioned, it is not always possible to regain your full athletic ability after a fracture. Sequelae are possible if the patient continues to practice an unsuitable sport. In the event of a severe abnormality or fracture of a joint, the risk of osteoarthritis is high. Be sure to consult your doctor to determine if the sport you have been playing so far is risky, and if you would not be better off trying another one or reducing your training intensity.
On the other hand, complete rest is often contraindicated because the bone quality is dependent on some activity. Exercise improves the mineral content of bones. Bone quality also influences the healing process and subsequent athletic ability. Besides the age of the patient, possible osteoporosis also plays a role. Taking vitamins or chondroprotective preparations can promote healing.
Your bones are repaired, but you still feel pain and uncertainty?
An accident often gives rise to many fears. The aches and pains and the prescribed “rest period” lead to mental relief. Thus, the patient often continues to spare the affected extremity while the bone is healed. This behavior may be due to possible residual pain or the patient’s “getting used to” it. Injury to the periosteum or scarring of nearby soft tissue can cause residual pain. A fracture is not just a fracture that we repair so that everything returns to order. Additional lesions, such as soft tissue injuries or scarring, can also play a role and lead to residual disturbances or uncertainties. In this case, it is useful to consult a sports physiotherapist to analyze the case. It helps the patient to adopt a normal gait. In the presence of troublesome scarring, targeted stretching exercises often yield good results.
Residual pain should never be tacitly accepted or ignored by the patient. He must discuss this with his physiotherapist and his doctor. A careful examination allows one to find the causes and possibly treat them or advise the patient to improve his quality of life by changing sport.
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