As a fan, the resurgence of the Sixers this year has been exciting to watch. So I was disappointed to hear that Ben Simmons would be missing the remainder of the year due to the Jones fracture in his foot. Reading the online commentary and listening to local sports talk radio has raised questions as to "why" Simmons' recovery from a "simple foot fracture" is taking "so long."
Of course, the concept of fractures not healing properly is a not a new issue. About 5 to 10 percent of all broken bones go on to a delayed union or non-union, which means that they are not healing at the expected rate or have stopped healing entirely.
The two biggest issues with non-unions of fractures are diagnosing and then treating them. It is challenging to diagnose a non-union because most fractures want to heal, but there are three ways to do so. Traditional X-rays can be deceiving or inaccurate in determining healing because they are two dimensional projections of three-dimensional objects. CT scans are also used but this introduces a significant amount of radiation to the patient. Usually, if a patient experiences pain directly at the fracture site even after sufficient time has passed to allow it to heal, that is the sign of a non-union diagnosis.
Once the diagnosis is made, the next step is to figure out the course of treatment, which needs to be specific to the patient and to the fracture. In general, there are four reasons why a fracture would not heal, but most often non-union results from a combination of these factors:
A non-union after breaking a bone can be a challenging problem, but an organized treatment approach usually results in a good outcome.