Do you have a fibula fracture, and you’re looking for ways to accelerate the healing time?
I rely on my experience as a physical therapist and my research in medical studies to guide you.
Happy reading 🙂!
Take-Home Message: There is no medication or therapy that can speed up the healing process. However, by quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, and staying physically active, your body will be better able to initiate the natural bone remodeling processes.
Last update: October 2023
Disclaimer: Affiliate links. Complete disclosure in legal notices.
Written by Nelly Darbois, physical therapist and scientific writer
What is the usual healing time for a fibula fracture?
Healing time depends on various factors such as the type of fracture, your current and prior health condition, etc.
In general, it takes a few months to fully regain your pre-fracture lifestyle at 100% after a fibula fracture.
Here are some indicative recovery timelines.
|Stage||Usual Timeframe from the Day of Fibula Fracture|
|Significantly reduced pain||2-3 weeks|
|Your bones are well consolidated (= healing time)||6-8 weeks|
|Swelling in your leg/foot subsides||Several weeks to months|
|Resuming walking with crutches||Immediate|
|Resuming walking without crutches||6 weeks – 3 months|
|Ability to drive a car||6 weeks – 12 weeks|
|Returning to work||2-4 months|
|Getting back to sports||3-10 months|
|Complete functional and muscular recovery||6 months – 1 year|
What factors influence this healing time?
Research is conducted in animals and humans to identify what causes a bone to take longer to heal.
Here is a list of known factors that can prolong the healing process (it still eventually heals in the vast majority of cases!).
This applies to a fibula fracture as well as any other fracture!
1️⃣ The fracture is displaced: this means there is a significant gap between the broken bone fragments, and sometimes surgery is needed to stabilize them after a surgeon has realigned them.
2️⃣ The bone is broken in multiple places (for example, in the case of a double leg fracture, where the tibia is also broken).
3️⃣ You have other health problems, such as diabetes.
4️⃣ You smoke or consume alcohol.
5️⃣ You are over 65 years old.
6️⃣ You are obese.
7️⃣ You take steroids.
8️⃣ You are malnourished or anemic.
9️⃣ You have been taking certain medications like NSAIDs or corticosteroids for a long time.
Source: Sheen 2023
3 things you can do to accelerate the healing process
These healing durations may seem quite long to you, and you may be wondering how to recover more quickly from your fibula fracture.
It’s important to know that even though research is ongoing, there is currently no medication, substance, or therapy that can accelerate the bone consolidation process.
However, there are some things you can do to not hinder the natural consolidation process, which occurs quite effectively on its own.
1. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption during the consolidation period.
These substances slow down the natural consolidation process and wound healing.
2. Stay as active as possible.
Engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activity that involves your muscles and gets your heart rate up (causing slight breathlessness) each week.
Physical activity stimulates bone cells to produce new cells, primarily by increasing blood circulation. It also has positive overall effects on physical and mental health.
If you’re unsure how to continue being physically active despite your fracture, consult your physical therapist or another professional for guidance.
3. (Only if you are over 65 or have osteoporosis): Take vitamin D and calcium supplements (or ensure you get enough through your diet and sun exposure, which can be challenging to assess).
Recommended daily doses are 800 to 1000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D and 1000 to 1200 mg of calcium.
These substances can assist in better consolidation. However, they are not necessary if you are under 65 and do not have osteoporosis.
Source: Roberts 2012, Prieto, Howe, Avenell
How can you be sure there are no other tricks?
It’s a valid question, and it’s essential to understand the cognitive biases that lead us to always hope for a miracle treatment.
One of the key cognitive biases at play here is the ‘availability heuristic.’ This cognitive shortcut makes us believe that if we can think of an example of something happening, it must be a common occurrence.
In the context of medical treatments, this means that if we hear about a miraculous recovery or a quick healing process, we tend to believe it’s more prevalent than it actually is.
Media plays a significant role in amplifying this bias. They tend to focus on extraordinary cases, creating the impression that these outcomes are typical. This can lead people to believe that there must be a secret or a magic bullet treatment out there.
However, when we delve into the subject, as I have done by examining what research says, comparing data from animal and human studies on consolidation times based on various factors, there is no magic bullet to date.
It’s essential (for me!) to separate anecdotal stories and individual cases from scientifically rigorous studies. While some people might claim miraculous recoveries, these instances are exceptions rather than the rule.
In the field of medicine, especially bone healing, advancements are typically incremental and grounded in scientific evidence. So, while we all hope for speedy recoveries, the reality is that the human body has its natural pace for healing.
Ultimately, the best course of action is to follow evidence-based recommendations, such as those mentioned earlier, to support your body’s natural healing processes and promote a successful recovery
Conclusion: How to speed up the healing time of a fibula fracture?
- Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco: Alcohol and tobacco can hinder natural bone healing. Quit or reduce your consumption to support your body’s healing process.
- Stay Physically Active: Regular physical activity, even light exercises, promotes blood circulation and encourages new bone cell production.
- Consider Vitamin D and Calcium (If Needed): If you’re over 65 or have osteoporosis, consult your healthcare provider about vitamin D and calcium supplements. They can aid in the healing process, but they’re not necessary for everyone.
Remember, there’s no magical solution to speeding up fibula fracture healing! However, by following these evidence-based tips, you can support your body’s natural healing process and enhance your chances of a successful recovery 💪.
Here’s what I wanted to tell you about this! I wish you a very good recovery! Do you have any comments or questions? Your comments are welcome 🙂 !
If you feel the need to learn more about the recovery period after a fibula fracture, I wrote this guide in eBook format:
You may also like:
Sheen JR, Mabrouk A, Garla VV. Fracture Healing Overview. [Updated 2023 Apr 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551678/
Roberts, C. S., & Falls, T. D. (2012). Talking turkey: Fracture care and smoking cessation. Injury, 43(3), 257–258. doi:10.1016/j.injury.2012.01.018
Prieto-Alhambra D, Turkiewicz A, Reyes C, Timpka S, Rosengren B, Englund M. Smoking and Alcohol Intake but Not Muscle Strength in Young Men Increase Fracture Risk at Middle Age: A Cohort Study Linked to the Swedish National Patient Registry. J Bone Miner Res. 2020 Mar;35(3):498-504. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.3917. Epub 2019 Dec 4. PMID: 31714618.
Howe TE, Shea B, Dawson LJ, Downie F, Murray A, Ross C, Harbour RT, Caldwell LM, Creed G. Exercise for preventing and treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD000333. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000333.pub2
Avenell A, Mak JCS, O’Connell DL. Vitamin D and vitamin D analogues for preventing fractures in post‐menopausal women and older men. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD000227. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000227.pub4. Accessed 25 August 2023.
Written by Nelly Darbois
I love writing articles based on my experience as a physiotherapist (since 2012), scientific writer, and extensive researcher in international scientific literature.
I live in the French Alps 🌞❄️, where I work as a scientific editor for my own website, which is where you are right now.