If you’ve experienced a fractured bone or you’re currently suffering through a fracture right now – take heart. We’re going to address the fracture healing process and share 6 ways to speed up your recovery.
By following these tips, you’ll reduce the likelihood of fractures ever happening in the future. (That’s critical to your overall health, considering the 6-month mortality rate from hip fractures and resulting complications is 13.5%!)¹
By year 2 the mortality rate from hip fractures rises to 20%!
Sobering stats. But let’s discuss the fracture healing process so you don’t have to become a statistic.
- Hannan EL, Magaziner J, Wang JJ, et al. Mortality and Locomotion 6 Months After Hospitalization for Hip Fracture: Risk Factors and Risk-Adjusted Hospital Outcomes. JAMA. 2001;285(21):2736–2742. doi:10.1001/jama.285.21.2736
- Ghiasi, M. S., Chen, J., Vaziri, A., Rodriguez, E. K., & Nazarian, A. (2017). Bone fracture healing in mechanobiological modeling: A review of principles and methods. Bone reports, 6, 87–100. doi:10.1016/j.bonr.2017.03.002
- Fracture Healing. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/fracture-healing
- Joanne H. E. Promislow, Deborah Goodman-Gruen, Donald J. Slymen, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, Protein Consumption and Bone Mineral Density in the Elderly : The Rancho Bernardo Study, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 155, Issue 7, 1 April 2002, Pages 636–644, doi:10.1093/aje/155.7.636
- Bauer J, Biolo G, Cederholm T, et al. Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. J Am Med Dir Assoc 2013;14:542–59. doi:10.1016/j.jamda.2013.05.021
- Tipton K. D. (2015). Nutritional Support for Exercise-Induced Injuries. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 45 Suppl 1, S93–S104. doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0398-4
- Sheweita SA, Khoshhal KI. Calcium metabolism and oxidative stress in bone fractures: role of antioxidants. Curr Drug Metab 2007;8:519–25.
- Alcantara-Martos T, Delgado-Martinez AD, Vega MV, Carrascal MT, Munuera-Martinez L. Effect of vitamin C on fracture healing in elderly Osteogenic Disorder Shionogi rats. J Bone Jt Surg Br 2007;89:402e7. doi:10.1302/0301-620X.89B3.18007
- Pullar, J. M., Carr, A. C., & Vissers, M. (2017). The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients, 9(8), 866. doi:10.3390/nu9080866
- Wong, S. K., Mohamad, N. V., Ibrahim, N. '., Chin, K. Y., Shuid, A. N., & Ima-Nirwana, S. (2019). The Molecular Mechanism of Vitamin E as a Bone-Protecting Agent: A Review on Current Evidence. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(6), 1453. doi:10.3390/ijms20061453
- Pountos, I., Georgouli, T., Calori, G. M., & Giannoudis, P. V. (2012). Do nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs affect bone healing? A critical analysis. TheScientificWorldJournal, 2012, 606404. doi:10.1100/2012/606404
- I. Pountos, T. Georgouli, T.J. Blokhuis, H.C. Pape, P.V. Giannoudis, Pharmacological agents and impairment of fracture healing: what is the evidence? Injury 39 (April (4)) (2008) 384–394. doi:10.1016/j.injury.2007.10.035
- Goldstein, J. L., & Cryer, B. (2015). Gastrointestinal injury associated with NSAID use: a case study and review of risk factors and preventative strategies. Drug, healthcare and patient safety, 7, 31–41. doi:10.2147/DHPS.S71976
- Takada Y, Bhardwaj A, Potdar P, Aggarwal BB. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene. 2004;23(57):9247–9258. doi:10.1038/sj.onc.1208169
- Patel, R. A., Wilson, R. F., Patel, P. A., & Palmer, R. M. (2013). The effect of smoking on bone healing: A systematic review. Bone & joint research, 2(6), 102–111. doi:10.1302/2046-3758.26.2000142
- Volkmer, D. L., Sears, B., Lauing, K. L., Nauer, R. K., Roper, P. M., Yong, S., … Callaci, J. J. (2011). Antioxidant therapy attenuates deficient bone fracture repair associated with binge alcohol exposure. Journal of orthopaedic trauma, 25(8), 516–521. doi:10.1097/BOT.0b013e31821f65cc
- Siddique, N.; O’Donoghue, M.; Casey, M.C.; Walsh, J.B. Malnutrition in the elderly and its effects on bone health—A review. Clin. Nutr. ESPEN 2017, 21, 31–39. doi:10.1016/j.clnesp.2017.06.001
A fracture is a medical term for a broken bone. Fractures vary by severity, from small cracks in the bone (called a “hairline fracture”) to a complete break all the way through, into either two or more pieces.
For a full description of the fracture healing process, see
What are the 5 stages of fractures healing? section above. There are 5 steps to the fracture healing process: 1) Hematoma Formation. Blood vessels are ruptured and bone tissue swells. 2) Granulation Tissue Formation (Inflammation). The hematoma is swarmed by inflammatory molecules. These molecules work to clear out dead bone as they react to the trauma. 3) Callus Formation. Bone-building and bone-resorbing cells begin to form to restart the body’s natural bone remodeling process. 4) Consolidation. Stronger (lamellar) bone replaces the soft (woven) bone that’s been built to this point. 5) Bone Remodelling. Lamellar bone fills in the fracture site until the healing process is complete.
The soft callus material during fracture healing occurs in the “callus formation” stage of bone healing. It’s a consolidation of new proteins partly produced by your bone-building cells (osteoblasts). It can also refer to an undesirable consistency of your bone, as a soft or “rubbery” callus isn’t structurally strong like a rigid callus of those with healthier bones. A poor diet can lead to this state, particularly protein malnutrition.¹⁶
Foods high in protein are great for fracture healing. Your bones crave protein during the rebuilding process, as they’re needed to help transport calcium to the bones, but also because your bones are about 50% protein by volume!
It’s important to maintain your caloric intake during the bone healing process, too. But above all, it’s important to consume nutrient-dense foods.
Here’s a quick list of bone healing foods to consider: dairy products like milk and cheeses; canned sardines and salmon (with bones); collard greens, kale, and broccoli; spinach, okra, and potatoes; papaya, oranges and bananas; red and green peppers, grapefruits and pineapples.
For a complete list, please visit this page on best foods for osteoporosis.
A multi-nutrient calcium supplement is the best way to go during the bone healing process. That is, a natural, plant-based calcium source that contains all 13 bone-building minerals your bones must have. Not calcium supplements that might contain magnesium and Vitamin D, but a calcium supplement with trace minerals that speed up the healing process.
That’s why a calcium supplement like AlgaeCal Plus works well. In fact, it guarantees increased bone density within 6 months when taken with potent Strontium Boost. How? Because it contains all the trace minerals you need, and is well absorbed (coming from a marine algae– not straight from a rock quarry like 95% of the calcium supplements out there now).
Finally, another supplement for healing bone through its anti-inflammatory properties is omega 3 fish oil. Omega 3 fish oil is an antioxidant that destroys free radicals– like those causing inflammation in your bones, which can lead to thinning.
Look to a fish oil that’s preferably not in an enteric coated capsule (the fish oil can be rancid depending on manufacturing practices), and that comes from a good fatty fish like mackerel, sardines or anchovies. If it has added antioxidants, so much the better. We prefer Triple Power Omega 3 Fish Oil ourselves.
Fracture healing time depends on several factors. First, it’s important to know the older you are, the longer, in general, it will take a fracture to heal.
You’ll also recover from a fracture much quicker if you’re constantly nourishing your bones with the bone-healing foods mentioned above. Extra antioxidants and bone-growth supplements will shortcut your recovery time as well.
In general, the most significant work in the bone healing process is completed in 6-8 weeks. Timelines vary by body part- anywhere from 3-12 weeks or more- but expect it to take longer if you’ve got a severe fracture vs. a less serious hairline fracture, for example.