Bone is an important part of our daily life because it provides a structural support for the movement of our body, protects the delicate organs, serves as the site for the formation of blood cells(bone marrow) and acts as a reservoir for minerals.
Usually, road traffic accidents, falls and contact sports can cause bone fractures. Unlike other tissues like the skin and muscles that heal by forming scars, bone heals by the formation of more bone.
The process of bone healing can be described in stages:
- Inflammation occurs at the fracture point as a result of bleeding from torn blood vessels. Clot formed in the area also acts as a covering for the torn vessels. This provides the initial framework for producing new bones.
- Tiny blood vessels called capillaries, grow into the blood clot while dead bone fragments are cleared out by cells called "phagocytes". Bone forming cells (fibroblasts and osteoblasts) fill the area. Osteoblasts form spongy bone, while fibroblasts form collagen. A soft bridge-like structure forms between the two segments of broken bone. This is called "callus".
- The soft callus is replaced with hard bone.
- Lastly bone remodeling takes place. It takes several months for the bone to get back to it's original shape.
The time it takes for fractured bones to heal depends on the location and severity of the fracture. It usually takes about 6 to 12 weeks to heal, but bone healing in children occurs faster than in adults.
Foods rich in calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K and high protein help in bone healing, while consuming alcohol, sodas, caffeine and foods high salt and sugar content can prevent the body from absorbing calcium.