Although the term “break a leg” is a lighthearted “good luck,” actually breaking a leg (or any other bone) is not much fun for anyone. Broken bones, or fractures, are usually the result of an unexpected incident such as a car accident, fall or sporting injury. The three most common bone fracture sites are the wrist, ankle and the hip. The six to eight week healing time often requires the affected area to be held in one position, usually with a cast. This can make everyday life difficult and stop us from doing the things that we love.
Fractures aren’t always obvious and can be easily mistaken for other musculoskeletal injures such as dislocations or ligament damage. If you have had a fall, whether it be a trip over the vacuum cleaner or a rough tackle in footy and you feel immediate pain, experience swelling, deformity or an inability to use the limb, there may be reason to suspect a fracture. A bone can break in many different ways. This can be anything from a simple crack to complex fractures in many pieces. It is important to get an x-ray to find out what kind of fracture is present. This will have an effect on how the fracture will be managed.
A simple, or closed fracture, is the most common type and is relatively easy to manage. A Doctor or Physiotherapist will place a cast around the affected area, which stops movement and allows the bones an opportunity to be held together. The cast may need to be changed or altered by a Physiotherapist throughout the healing process. As swelling improves, casts can become loose and not hold the fracture adequately.
Once the fracture has healed adequately the cast will be removed. The area may feel like it isn’t moving as much as it used to. It may feel tight and weak, which is very common after a period of immobilisation. Some discomfort is also not unusual. Unfortunately full movement and strength may not return with time alone. A Physiotherapist can provide manual therapies and a tailored exercise program which will assist you in regaining your full movement and previous strength so you can get back to all the activities you love.
Article written by Healthfocus Physiotherapist Kellie Ladgrove. To book an appointment with Kellie, contact Healthfocus Physiotherapy Daintree, Wodonga.