Closed Reduction of a Fractured Bone: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

You can expect the pain from your broken (fractured) bone to get much better almost right after your doctor fixes the fracture. But you may have some pain for 2 to 3 weeks and mild pain for up to 6 weeks after surgery.

How soon you can return to work and your normal routine depends on your job and how long it takes the bone to heal. If you have a desk job, you may be able to go back to work right away. But if you have a fractured leg and your job requires you to walk or stand a lot, you will need to wait until your fracture has healed.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Increase your activity as recommended by your doctor. Being active boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation. It is usually okay to exercise other parts of your body as soon as you feel well enough.
  • Avoid putting weight on your broken bone until your doctor says it is okay.
  • You may be able to go back to work right away, or you may need to take several weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel. Your doctor will help you decide how much time to take off from work.
  • You can take showers or baths, but do not get your cast wet. Tape a sheet of plastic to cover your cast so that it stays dry. It may help to sit on a shower stool.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.

Medicines

  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, take an over-the-counter medicine that your doctor recommends. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Exercise

  • Do exercises as instructed by your doctor or physiotherapist. These exercises will help keep your muscles strong and your joints flexible while your bone is healing.
  • Wiggle your fingers or toes on the injured arm or leg often. This helps reduce swelling and stiffness.

Ice and elevation

  • Prop up the injured arm or leg on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down during the first 1 to 2 weeks after your injury. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling and pain.

Other instructions

  • Keep your cast dry.
  • Wear a sling to support the fractured limb, if your doctor tells you to.
  • Do not stick objects such as pencils or coat hangers in your cast to scratch your skin.
  • Do not put powder into your cast to relieve itchy skin.
  • Never cut or alter your cast.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • Your fingers or toes on the injured arm or leg are cool, pale, or change colour.
  • You have tingling or numbness in your fingers or toes.
  • You cannot move your fingers or toes.
  • Your cast feels too tight.
  • The skin under your cast is burning or stinging.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have drainage or a bad smell coming from the cast.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have any problems with your cast.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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