How do bones heal?

I don’t know about you, but I would break my bones all the time. There was something about me and falling and tripping on a regular basis. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t fancy myself as some superman who could jump off tall buildings. I didn’t think of myself as a projectile either; to be launched from high up. But there it was. Breaking bones would occur with almost the same regularity as the rising sun. My most painful experience was falling from a parapet and breaking my hand. My teacher refused to believe I had broken my bone. She thought I was telling tall stories. Perhaps, my reputation preceded me much like Mr. Bond.

Given my predilection to breaking bones, you will pardon my curiosity about how it heals. Thankful Doctors allow it to heal on its own. They just provide support, and your body does the rest of the magic. The time your body takes to perform is a function of your health, age, and overall fitness. Within a couple of hours a clot forms around the break. This clot creates phagocytes which play the role of removing any bone fragments or infection that may have occurred. Phagocytes means cells that eat.

Next a hard callus forms that help create new bone. To fill in what your superman antics broke. This process can take six to twelve weeks depending on the intensity of the break. Now it gets fascinating. At this stage, your body plays Michelangelo. It models and shapes the bone so that it returns to its original shape. Excess bone is chipped away. Specialized cells called osteoclasts are used to do this. It’s fine art you see. There you are done. Picasso would be proud. Do try not to jump off roofs though, your body is not designed for it.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.