Having a fracture (broken bone), can seriously disrupt a persons life. It can be difficult trying to complete daily tasks with a cast, sling, boot or crutches. The day 6 weeks or 8 weeks after a fracture when getting your cast off is cause for celebration!
In a way, getting your cast off STARTS the rehab process.
Your bone is healed, but you’ve spent 6 weeks not moving your joint. You feel stiff. Your muscles have gotten weaker. Your tendons and ligaments have not been stretched. The joint is sore to move.
Many people come into our Oakville Physio, Massage, Yoga Therapy and foot clinic surprised that they’re having difficulty at this stage. They have expected to have the cast off and be back to normal living. Getting the cast off is sometimes the beginning of the process of regaining range of motion, flexibility, and strength. One of the biggest mistakes that people can make in the recovery process is stopping Physiotherapy early. The joint begins to move better, they have less pain and they just want to get on with their daily lives.
Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Don’t give up! It can take longer to gain strength in muscles that haven’t been working. Gradually progressing the intensity of strengthening exercises is important to help support the joint. For example, strengthening the muscles around the ankle and foot after an ankle fracture helps prevent future problems such as achilles tendinitis and plantar fasciitis.
As Physiotherapy and rehabilitation progresses after a fracture it is normal to space appointments out more if you are consistently and comfortably doing your exercises on your own. Even after returning to the gym and activity, the one side can lag behind. We are more likely to use to our stronger side for movement. It’s important to continue to focus on specific strengthening and coordination based exercises.
Physiotherapy after a fracture is important for people of all ages from children to older adults. A typical treatment and the progression of treatment varies depending on a few things:
- Age of the person
- Time immobilized
- If there was surgery involved (pins, plates, screws put in)
- The health status of person
- Levels of function and fitness before the fracture
- Amount of time spent at home doing the home program
- Amount of time between getting the cast off and accessing Physio / starting to move
What to expect from treatment
While recovering from a fracture your Physiotherapist may suggest they work with you to help mobilize stiff joints and stretch tight tissues. At Physio you should be given exercises to do at home to help maintain the gains from your Physiotherapy treatment. If you are consistent with the exercises at home you should also be able to make some progress in strength and range of motion. During follow up sessions the Physio will progress treatment and exercises depending on the person.
A Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) can also work with you after getting a cast off to loosen the tight tissues around the joint. After a massage you should find that you can move the joint more easily, whether it be an ankle, shoulder, or wrist.