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How Bones Heal

Bone is living tissue made up of cells. When a bone breaks, bleeding, swelling, and blood clotting happen in the injured area. As the bone heals, the clotted blood is replaced with fibrous tissue and cartilage.

Bones heal through a slow process called remodeling. This is when the bone continues to form and becomes compact. The length of this process depends on your general health and age. It also depends on the type of break and how serious it is.

Other things that affect healing include:

  • Medicines you take

  • If you smoke. Smoking delays bone healing.

  • How well the injury is cared for

Bones usually take about 6 to 12 weeks to heal.

Cross section of broken bone showing blood clot forming at break.
Tissues bleed around the fracture. This forms a blood clot in the space between bone fragments.
Cross section of broken bone showing fibers forming in blood clot at break.
Cells form a network of strong fibers inside the blood clot. These fibers hold bone fragments together.
Cross section of broken bone showing callus forming at break.
The fibers are replaced by new bone. At first, the new bone is weak and spongy. This is called a fracture callus.
Cross section of bone showing healed fracture.
The new bone grows stronger, even after a cast is removed. The fracture callus shrinks and remodels as the bone is used.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik MBA BSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2023
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