Fracture rehabilitation

There are two types of fractures: acute fractures, which result from a traumatic force strong enough to break the bone, and stress fractures, which tend to be overuse injuries cause by repeated stress on the bone over time, causing a hairline break.

At Circle, we offer diagnosis and rehabilitation packages for stress fractures, and rehabilitation to get those whose bone has mended after an acute fracture back to being fully active again.

We also provide rehabilitation to osteoarthritis patients who are recovering from micro-fracture surgery, a procedure which involves drilling holes in the bone to release bone marrow cells in order to stimulate the growth of new cartilage.

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Acute fractures

Acute fractures may take the form of a crack in the bone or another type of trauma. Some common fractures include ankle and hip fractures, multiple fractures in high energy car crashes and fractures around knee cap.

A fracture will take 6-8 weeks to heal in a healthy adult, maybe longer in someone with an unhealthy lifestyle or certain health conditions. Children heal from fractures very quickly in 4-6 weeks.

In the first six weeks after suffering an acute fracture, load is taken off the bone. But we now know that a little bit of load yields a positive response from soft tissue and helps healing.

Circle has gold standard machines which can offer precisely calibrated partial weight bearing to assist recovery from an acute fracture. You can exercise on the aqua treadmill very largely supported by the water with minimum weight-bearing. You can get walking straight away on the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill at 30 or 40% bodyweight. You can’t do that anywhere else in local area as a member of the public.

The high degree of expertise in Circle’s team means that we can allocate patients with a specialist physio who is good for confidence as well as physical recovery. The specialist can put you through a 6-8 week programme that can improve your strength conditioning as part of your rehabilitation. Whatever goal you have, we can facilitate it here: there’s no hard-and-fast time limits on our therapy programmes, patients can decide when to leave. Circle is also in extremely rare position of having an intensive inpatient rehabilitation service – a service that allows people who need it to come in for intensive physiotherapy seven days a week.

Stress fractures

Stress fractures are injuries caused by unusually heavy load on a bone, which can turn into a true fracture if not managed properly. They are often seen in runners, or people taking part in sports that involve lots of running.

Stress fractures commonly occur in the shin and heel bone. They are also seen in the metatarsals (the long bones in the feet), the thighbone and around the hip. Participants in sports that involve repeated extension, including cricket, gymnastics and javelin, may suffer stress fractures in the lower back or lumber spine. Patients injured this way should be reassured that they haven’t broken their back, they’ve overloaded it and the condition is manageable, maybe by temporarily taking them away from their sport to correct their technique.

Stress fractures may happen when a sports enthusiast accelerates their training regimes too quickly, such as giving themselves only 6 weeks to train for a marathon. There are lots of reasons independent of sports and exercise why people can develop stress fractures: for example risks around hormonal changes in women. Adolescent “growing pains” can be related to the development of stress fracture symptoms.

Equipment at Circle particularly useful for stress fracture patients includes Run3D Gait Analysis, which breaks down the mechanics of patients’ running, allowing therapists to look at the way patients’ joints are moving. This might pick up unusual amounts of load on the shin or the thigh. Recovering from stress fractures can involve addressing training loads and programmes. Circle Rehabilitation is ideally set up for this as patients can have load taken off their fracture on the Hydro Physio aqua treadmill, and then move on to the AlterG, where load can be reintroduced gradually.

Patients have the benefit of the expertise of Dr Kate Hutchings, a sports therapist at the English Institute for Sport who runs a clinic at Circle and is an expert in stress fractures, plus a highly experienced physiotherapy team.

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