Orthopedist Questions Bone Fractures

Does a fracture take long to heal in older adults?

My mother is 80 years and had a fracture from falling down a set of stairs. It has been six weeks and I went with her for a checkup. The doctor said her fracture has not healed. Does it really take this long for a fracture to heal in older adults?

6 Answers

Yes in my experience injuries take much longer to heal in older individuals.
Probably. There is no proven answer, but in general it may take 10-20% longer than in healthy younger adults.
It depends on where the fracture is situated. The wrist heals in 4-6 weeks even if you are 80 years, but a fractured hip can take much longer and sometimes does not heal at all.
Fractures heal at different rates depending on the location in the body, any other medical issues such as diabetes, and at times the age of the patient. However, typically, a fracture can be considered healed around 12 weeks if it heals in a normal manner without issues, so it is reasonable to consider the fracture not healed at 6 weeks for your mother.

Many people will start to feel better at 6 weeks because the bones are getting "sticky" from a callus that is formed during the healing process, but this needs to calcify before it can become new bone.

I hope that is helpful,

Shaun Felcher, MD
Yes, as people age, fractures do take longer to heal. Bone healing rates can also very based on the specific bone and location as well. There are ways to help bones heal when that process is delayed. I’m confident the orthopedic surgeon will give you and your family good guidance to get this fracture to heal.
It can take about 3 months for a fracture to heal