Most bones heal in a few weeks or a few months depending on the bone, how severe the break is and how old you are. Sometimes, though, they don’t heal the way they should. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I explain delayed healing and some common risks for slow bone healing.
I broke my humerus backpacking. I have a plate that bends down my elbow. I have 7 nails. The scar is really bad. It’s been 11 weeks, it’s swollen and I can’t use my thumb or my right hand in general much. The doctor said it’s “delayed healing.” I’m 46 and a non-smoker. What causes delayed healing?
Delayed healing, or delayed union, means that a bone is taking longer to heal than normal. While the length of time varies based on the bones, generally orthopedic surgeons consider delayed healing when it has been three months or longer. Nonunion means the bone did not heal the way it should and likely won’t without some sort of treatment to make the bone heal.
As for risks for delayed healing, Carissa mentions probably the biggest one – smoking. Smokers have a much higher risk of delayed healing than non-smokers. Other possible risks include diabetes, poor blood supply to a bone or part of a bone, certain medications, and more.
In this video, I discuss some of the risks for delayed healing and what you might be able to do about it.
Please remember, while I appreciate your questions, I cannot and will not offer specific medical advice by email, on my website, on my podcast, or in social media. My responses are meant to provide general medical information and education. Please consult your physician or health care provider for your specific medical concerns.
I want to help you! Please take a few seconds to share the biggest challenge or struggle you’re facing with your injury! Click here!
Recommended Products and Resources
Click here to go to Dr. David Geier’s Amazon Influencer store!
Due to a large number of questions I have received over the years asking about products for health, injuries, performance, and other areas of sports, exercise, work and life, I have created an Amazon Influencer page. While this information and these products are not intended to treat any specific injury or illness you have, they are products I use personally, have used or have tried, or I have recommended to others. THE SITE MAY OFFER HEALTH, FITNESS, NUTRITIONAL AND OTHER SUCH INFORMATION, BUT SUCH INFORMATION IS DESIGNED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE CONTENT DOES NOT AND IS NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY MEDICAL ADVICE AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PRACTICE OF MEDICINE. YOU SHOULD NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR, NOR DOES IT REPLACE, PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. THE SITE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ACTIONS OR INACTION ON A USER’S PART BASED ON THE INFORMATION THAT IS PRESENTED ON THE SITE. Please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.