I would say almost every patient who enters our clinic with a partially healed broken bone is worried about the same thing: if it’s not healed all the way yet, why does my doctor want me in therapy?!?!?! Shouldn’t moving re-break the bone?!
Don’t get me wrong, in your shoes I’d panic too! But, thankfully our bodies heal in a very unique way. And PT can be very useful for various bones of our body, particularly load bearing bones!
Wolff’s law is named after a scientist who studied bone density. He discovered that much like our muscles and tendons, bone actually responds to the loads put on it by increasing density to the loaded region in the direction of force. This law of the body is called Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. In other tissues it’s found that if we apply graded stress to a tissue, that tissue senses the stress and gathers more nutrients to strengthen its matrix against that stress so that it is more resilient in the case that it happens again. This is the very thing we use in resistance training to gain strength and stretching to gain flexibility!
As Wolff discovered, bones actually do the same thing! While bones may look like static, hard structures, they are a living part of you that contain cells constantly working towards their resilience when loaded. With that said, when unloaded, the body learns that those structures done need these nutrients, which can actually slow healing down! So, once your doctor determines there is enough healing complete to support your weight, it is important to start bearing weight not only to encourage this development, but to avoid any loss of bone density!
Pretty cool, right?!