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» Physical Therapy for Fractures, Part 3
Physical Therapy for Fractures, Part 3

In our last submission, we discussed the role of the physical therapist in recovering from a bone fracture. This week, we will explore specific rehabilitation methods used by physical therapists to restore strength, range of motion, and mobility after the cast comes off.

Rehabilitation Techniques in Physical Therapy

Six weeks of limb immobilization typically causes a loss of strength, range of motion and functional mobility. The overall goal of physical therapy after a fracture is to overcoming these negative effects of being immobilized for this period of time.

Pain and swelling can be controlled by the patient at home with ice and NSAIDs (over-the-counter medications). In rare circumstances, your doctor may prescribe a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication.

Your PT may use therapeutic modalities to help with pain and swelling. These modalities can include hot packs, cold packs, and even electrical stimulation with a TENS unit to help improve muscle recovery. While passive treatments like electrical stimulation or ultrasound may be used, it is just as important for you to engage in physical activities to help your physical therapy.

If your doctor performed surgery to reduce the bone fracture, there may be significant surgical scar tissue left behind. Your PT can perform scar massage to reduce scar adhesions and improve mobility around the surgical area.

Physical exercise can dramatically help improve a patient’s strength and range of motion. Your physical therapist will teach you the correct exercises for your specific condition. Primary focus should be placed on the fractured area and the surrounding joints. If your injury was to the knee, exercises should be included for the ankle, shin and hip. Likewise, if you have fractured an elbow, mobility exercises for your elbow, wrist, and shoulder would be required. Exercises help ensure that your injured limb is restored to pre-injury status and is able to withstand the loads and stresses of normal everyday function.

Post-fracture exercises also help to improve your functional mobility. If you have an arm or shoulder fracture, reaching and grasping exercises would be important components of your functional exercises. If you suffered a broken leg, your physical therapist can develop exercises to help you walk normally again. She can even help you decide if you require assistive walking devices, such as a cane, walker, or crutches.


Rehabilitation Duration

How long will physical therapy take? Well, everyone is different. Generally, a fracture should be healed by about 8 weeks, and you should return to normal mobility within 12 weeks. But people heal at different rates and each fracture is unique, so although rehab generally takes about 6 to 8 weeks, your program may last a shorter or longer period of time. Your physical therapist should be able to give you an accurate estimate of how long your rehab program is expected to last.

A bone fracture is a painful experience that can lead to functional loss and disability. Most of the time, the loss is merely temporary. However; depending on the severity of the injury, the loss may become a permanent disability. Physical therapy can help a fractured patient recover optimum mobility and functionality as quickly as possible.


If you have suffered a bone fracture and are in need of post-treatment physical therapy, visit Excel Rehabilitation Services on Burnside Ave. in Gonzales, Louisiana. You will receive personalized care from an experienced, professional physical therapist!


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