Tommy Lloyd
Author: Tommy Lloyd, Managing Director

Tommy has over 15 years experience within the insurance industry, and his primary focus is helping travellers find the right cover for their medical conditions.

6 min read

Broken or fractured bones?

If you’ve suffered a nasty injury which has resulted in a fractured or broken bone – it is still possible to travel. However, it depends on your own personal circumstances (in terms of how physically limited/disabled you are as a result of the injury) and also the requirements of your chosen airline.

Asides from this, the first person you should consult before even considering traveling with a broken bone is your doctor or physio. A broken bone or fracture is a debilitating injury that will affect your holiday no matter what.

So, it’s always worth seeking the appropriate medical advice, or getting an adaptable travel plan in place to suit your needs before you embark on your trip.

How long does a broken bone take to heal?

This depends entirely on the person and the nature of the injury itself. Some minor fractures can repair within 3 weeks with good physio work. Most severe breaks can take more than 10 weeks to recover.

Obviously, the younger the person, the faster it will take for the injury to heal. So, if you’ve only recently sustained the injury, but have a holiday pencilled in the calendar – it would be wise to get an idea of when you’re likely to make a full recovery.

It’s difficult for a physiotherapist to accurately predict a recovery date, but they can give you a rough idea. This will help you plan and adapt your routines to cater for your travel arrangements in good time.

How long does swelling last after a broken bone?

When it comes to air travel, swelling is far from ideal. As well as cabin pressure, sitting down for an extended period of time can cause swelling in the leg and around the ankles and feet. In most cases, this is fairly normal for most people – and shouldn’t be a concern.

However, after an initial bone fracture – the body responds with swelling around the break itself. This normally lasts for the first few weeks from when the injury was first sustained and will usually start to progressively go down over time.

This is definitely something to bear in mind if you’re still in the initial swelling period and have a flight booked. Especially if it’s a long-haul flight – it might become painful to travel if an area of the body is already prone to swelling. It can result in a throbbing feeling that can become very uncomfortable. So, again, it’s wise to seek the advice of a professional so they can give you more advice on your specific condition before you fly.

Flying with a broken neck or spine

A broken neck or spine is obviously a very severe and debilitating injury. The likelihood is that it would still be possible to fly with a broken neck or collarbone provided you can maintain sitting in an upright position for an extended period of time. The airline will also have to judge your condition and physical wellbeing in line with their own policy.

As for a severe spinal injury, it’s likely that you won’t be able to fly. However, if you’re medically permitted to fly and have a letter from your doctor to prove it – check with your airline beforehand and find out if they can arrange special assistance where possible.

If you’re flying with a wheelchair, the airline needs to know. It’s likely that a member of airport staff will be able to walk you through the terminal building to the aircraft itself.

Flying with a broken leg in plaster

Flying with a broken leg is fine in most cases – however if the injury is still in the swelling phase and the plaster cast has been applied, there could be a problem.

Air travel can enhance the swelling inside the cast, which not only makes flying an uncomfortable ordeal – but also increases the risk of other more serious conditions, like blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Therefore, you may be advised to avoid flying altogether if the broken leg has only recently been sustained. If the swelling has reduced, you should be fine to fly.

If you need them for support, you’ll need to let the airline or tour operator know that you’ll be flying with crutches. However, when your actually on board the aircraft, you won’t be able to use them as they’ll probably be stored in the hold with all other luggage.

Flying with a broken arm in a cast

Again, if the injury is encased in plaster and the swelling is severe – flying can be uncomfortable. As long as you can remain comfortably seated, and your seatbelt can be applied as normal, it shouldn’t be a problem.

However, don’t worry about asking for a special assistance for a broken arm. In fact, for any type of injury where a fracture is involved, the airline may be able to give you a seat with one or multiple empty seats next to it to maximise the amount of personal space for yourself and ensure you’re as comfortable as possible for the duration of the flight.

Obviously this isn’t always guaranteed as a standard service, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Travel insurance for a broken bone

Injuries of this nature aren’t usually covered in a standard travel insurance policy. So, to ensure you’re fully covered, you’ll need to purchase a specialist travel insurance policy that covers you for your particular ailment.

With Medical Travel Compared, you can compare quotesfor specialist medical travel insurance in no time. We work with a variety of reputable providers that specialise in cover for injuries like those listed above.

Besides a broken arm or broken leg, you can also find cover for a number of different injuries – from a fractured rib to a broken wrist. All you need to do is start our quick and easy application form today and find a specialist policy to suit you.

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