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How Bones Heal

Bone is living tissue made up of cells. When a bone breaks, cells in the blood rush to the fractured area. These cells grow into new bone. Bones heal through a gradual process called remodeling. The length of this process depends on the type of fracture and how well the injury is cared for.

Broken bone showing blood clot forming at break.
Tissues bleed around the fracture. This forms a blood clot in the space between bone fragments.

Broken bone showing fibers forming in blood clot at break.
Cells form a network of strong fibers inside the blood clot. These fibers hold bone fragments together.

Broken bone showing callus forming at break.
The fibers are replaced by new bone. At first, the new bone is weak and spongy. This is called a fracture callus.

Broken bone showing healed fracture.
The new bone grows stronger, even after a cast is removed. The fracture callus shrinks as the bone is used.

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 8/26/2013
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