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Does surgery make a broken bone heal faster?

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Updated July 27, 2009

Question: Does surgery make a broken bone heal faster?
We live in an impatient society. People want things now, not later. This is true in medicine as well. When a patient breaks a bone, they want to get better, faster. Does surgery make broken bones heal faster?
Answer: No! In fact, surgery usually slows the healing of bones. Bones heal the fastest when they have good blood supply, and the patient has good nutrition to bring the necessary cells and nutrients to heal the bone.

When a patient has surgery for a broken bone, the blood supply to the bone is damaged, and the healing process slows down. In some surgical procedures, the impact on the blood supply is minimal, while in others it is much more significant.

Then why would anyone have surgery for a broken bone?
There are types of fractures that require repositioning that can only be done surgically, and there are types of fractures that cannot be held in place adequately with a cast. These types of fractures may benefit from a surgical procedure.

"My doctor told me if I had surgery I could move faster than if I had a cast?"
This may be true. When I treat a patient with a wrist fracture, I might cast them for six weeks. However, if I perform surgery, they may begin to start moving within a week of the surgery. This is not because the bone heals faster with surgery. Rather, with a metal plate holding the bones in place, I do not have to immobilize the patient as long.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Orthopedics
  4. Broken Bones
  5. Treatment of Fractures
  6. Accelerate Bone Healing
  7. Does surgery make a broken bone heal faster?

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