physiotherapy: fracture treatment

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what is a fracture?

The term fracture simply means a broken bone. The bone may be broken partially or completely. The bones most prone to fractures include the clavicle (collarbone), the wrist, the ankles, hips, the forearm (radius and ulna), distal radius, toes, elbows, and the knees. There are several types of fractures including:

  • Displaces fracture: When the bone breaks into two or more pieces and moves out of alignment.
  • Non-displaced fracture: This occurs when the bone breaks but doesn’t move out of alignment.
  • Closed fracture: This occurs when the skin is broken.
  • Open fracture: This occurs when the bone breaks through the skin.

The above-mentioned fractures are categorised further depending on the types of fracture patterns including:

  1. Greenstick fracture: This is an incomplete fracture where the bone is not completely separated.
  2. Transverse: This occurs when the break occurs in a straight line across the bone.
  3. Oblique: Occurring due to a bone twisting injury, this break spirals around the bone. 
  4. Compression: This happens when the bone is crushed causing the broken bone to flatten or widen in appearance. 
  5. Segmental: This happens when the same bone is fractured in two places making a segment ‘float’.
  6. Comminuted: This fracture breaks the bone into three or more pieces leaving the fragments at the fracture site.

what are the causes of fractures?

Fractures occur when a heavy force is applied to the bone, more than what it can withstand. Some of the most common causes of a fracture include:

  • Overuse of a particular bone by moving it repetitively. This is common in athletes and in people who are involved in occupations like plumbing, construction, loaders, etc.
  • Trauma caused due to a fall or road accident.
  • Age-related wear and tear and bone conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis can weaken the bones and make them more prone to fractures.

what are the symptoms of fractures?

Some of the most common symptoms of a fracture include:

  • Intense pain in the affected area.
  • Obvious deformity i.e. the limb looks twisted or out of place.
  • Swelling, tenderness, or bruising around the affected area.
  • Tingling and numbness.
  • Difficulty in moving that limb.

how are fractures diagnosed?

A fracture is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately. Leaving a fracture untreated leads to severe complications like immense and constant pain and swelling, permanent damage to the nerves, muscles, and ligaments in the affected area, and bone deformities.

If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you must consult your doctor immediately who will then use a variety of tests to diagnose your fracture. These tests include:

  • X-Ray: This is the most common test for determining the type of fracture that has occurred. 
  • MRI: This test produces more detailed images of the affected bones and helps in diagnosing fractures that don’t show up on an X-Ray. This is helpful in the case of smaller or stress fractures.
  • CT Scan: This is used to create 3-D images of the affected area and assessing the extent of the damage.

how are fractures treated?

Depending on the severity of the fracture, age of the patient, and the general health, there are several lines of treatment that may be used. Some of the most common fracture treatments include:

  • Immobilising the bone: Bone fractures are usually treated by using a cast or splint to encourage the bone to align and prevent the use of the bone till the time it gets healed. These are especially used in clavicle fracture treatment. When the affected bone is small i.e. that of the fingers or toes, casts or splints don’t work. Instead, wrappings are used. They are especially beneficial in rib fracture treatment.
  • Traction: This involves an application of force to stretch the affected area by using pulleys, strings, weights, or metal frames to stretch the affected area. This helps in its alignment and healing. This is useful in colles fracture treatment.
  • Surgery: If none of the above-mentioned bone fracture treatments work because of the severity of the fracture, you may be recommended surgery. This involves inserting internal and external rods or pins to hold the bone in place till the time they are aligned. 
  • Medications: Pain killers may be prescribed to ease pain and discomfort. In case oral pain killers don’t work, they may be provided intravenously. 

how does physiotherapy help in fractures?

Post-fracture rehabilitation is as important as treating a fracture. This is because when a fracture occurs, it not only breaks the bone but also affects the nearby soft tissues and nerves in the process. Moreover, keeping the fractured area in a sling or cast also results in muscle weakness and joint stiffness along with pain in the bone area. 
Physiotherapy is vital in helping the fractures heal faster. For maximum benefits, it should start immediately after the fracture has been immobilised. Though it can be accessed at hospitals or clinics, it is the most beneficial when taken at home. Some of the most important benefits include:

  • It helps in relieving you of the pain and the following process of immobilisation at the fracture site. 
  • It improves the patient’s tolerance for daily activities.
  • Manual physiotherapy helps in reducing the painful symptoms of scar tissues that disrupt movement.
  • It helps the patient regain independence and mobility that might have been lost during the time in the splint or cast. 
  • It helps in restoring the range of motion by removing the stiffness in the joints and muscles. 
  • It helps in building the strength of the muscles to help you resume your daily activities and exercises. 
  • Since it reduces pain, physiotherapy also has a direct impact on stress and anxiety management that a person may feel.
  • It improves overall wellness and health and lets a person enjoy a positive disposition. 

what are the types of exercises that help in fracture rehabilitation?

Your therapist, after assessing the severity of your fracture, your age, and general fitness, will create an exercise plan for you that will include combinations of several exercises. Some of the common exercises include:

  • Sitting exercises: These help in strengthening muscles, improving mobility, etc. These include chest stretches, upper-body twists, hip marching, etc. 
  • Flexibility exercises: These help in improving your range of motion and increasing the flexibility of muscles. These include neck rotations, neck stretching, sideways bends, etc.
  • Strength exercises: These help in forming muscle mass that helps in healing the fractures faster and avoiding them in the future. These include the use of light weights, resistance bands, mini-squats, etc.
  • Balance exercises: These help in improving your gait and range of motion to avoid fractures in the future. Some examples are sideways walking, heel-to-toe walk, one-leg stand, simple grapevine, etc.

how can portea help you?

Portea is credited with bringing world-class medical care into the homes of the patients to ensure its affordability and accessibility. We offer a wide range of healthcare solutions including physiotherapy for fracture rehabilitation. Some of the benefits that you get include:

  • Since we bring physiotherapy to your home, you don’t have to worry about travelling for your therapy sessions. This not only helps you heal faster in the convenience of your home but also reduces the risk of injuries while traveling and also saves the cost of travel.
  • Our therapist will make a tailor-made exercise plan after assessing your condition so that it is specific to your requirements. 
  • All our physiotherapists are trained and experienced in the latest techniques of therapy like electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, manual therapies, etc. 
  • Our therapy plans are much more economical than what you pay at hospitals and clinics. In fact, they have been found to be almost 25-30 per cent cheaper.
  • Our therapists not only help you practice therapy but are also trained to guide you on managing a good posture, how to make your diet more nutritious, stress management, how to improve your home ergonomics, and other lifestyle changes for you to not only recover quicker but also to avoid fractures in the future.
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Nikhat Begum


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