By Dr. K. P. Loknath Kumar, General Physician
Fractures, or broken bones, are the common result of falls, motor vehicles accidents, direct blows and recurrent forces. They are frequent among athletes who participate in high-velocity sports such as football, rugby and soccer. While casting and immobilization help the bones heal, injured tendons and ligaments may not have healed at the same time, resulting in pain. Pain is the natural response of the body to a fracture or injuries to the nearby tissues. This pain can be classified into three stages: Acute Pain: This refers to the pain that is caused immediately after the bone breaks. While the acute pain heals with time, it requires treatments such as a cast, splint, brace, surgery or a combination of any of the above. The motive behind the treatment would be to immobilize the fracture so that the bone is provided with enough time to heal. A broken bone in the back can be healed by adequate rest as well as by controlling and rectifying the movement patterns. It generally takes 6-8 weeks to heal. However, factors such as general health as well as condition of tissue and bone can increase the healing period. Sub-acute Pain: This occurs within a few weeks after the fracture and is caused by the stiffening of soft tissues near the injury as well as weakening of the muscles. Scars and inflammation can also occur which make movement extremely difficult. At this stage, physical therapy is recommended to relieve the pain. The therapist uses techniques such as electrical stimulation, ultrasound and massages to reduce stiffness and inflammation, strengthen the weakened muscles and improve movement range. Additionally, medications can also be used to reduce inflammation. It is advisable at this stage to move the fractured part as much as possible. Chronic Pain: Persistence of pain even after complete healing is known as chronic pain. The chronic pain can be best managed by pain management specialists who specialize in treatment of chronic pain. Day-to-day activities can be performed only if this pain is adequately controlled.