Fractures are very common in modern life. Reported annual occurrence in the US is about 7 million. Fracture healing can take any time between 4-12 weeks depending on the bone injured and the treatment given.
Because of inconvenience and adverse effects on daily activities of living, everyone looks for ways of faster fracture healing.
But is faster fracture healing feasible?
How Do Fractures Occur?
Fractures are also called broken bones and they mean the same. Some people treated both the terms differently. They use fracture when there is a crack in the bone or broken bone when the fracture is more severe and result in two pieces.
The actual term is undisplaced fracture and displaced fracture. In the first, the broken fragments are not displaced and in the second they get separated or displaced.
[Read about different types of fracture]
When the bone is hit with a force more than it can resist, it breaks. The bone can break by a direct hit or indirect force acting on the bone
The bones with decreased strength can fracture with lesser force than normal bone. The bone strength is often decreased in osteoporosis. A disease of the bone or a metabolic disease like hyperparathyroidisms also results in weakened bones.
Common mechanisms of injury are fall from height or motor vehicle accidents.
Circumstances surrounding the occurrence of fracture might help in chalking out the best treatment options for the person.
7 Tips for Faster Fracture Healing
Bone healing depends on several factors including nature of the injury, age of the patient, nutrition, and treatment.
[Read more about factors affecting fracture healing]
A fracture in the child heals much faster. The rate of bone healing decreases with age.
The rate of healing could vary from person to person.
In any given person we cannot make the bone to heal faster.
WE CAN NOT.
However, we can take care to avoid habits or activities that increase the risk of bone not healing.
1. Maintain Good Nutrition
Healing is a repair process and requires ample amount of different nutrients like protein, calcium and other minerals.
A balanced diet that ensures adequate nutritional intake of all food groups is helpful in maintaining body levels of requisite substances.
So eat well so that your repairing bone has ample supply at disposal.
2. Stop Smoking
Smoking leads to constriction [tightening[ of blood vessels]. Therefore, it decreases the circulation and this applies to the fracture site circulation as well. Those patients who smoke take a longer average time to heal.
Smokers carry a higher risk of non-union [a condition where bone fails to unite even after the passage of a certain period and will not unite further without an intervention.
So if you smoke, you can improve your healing capacity by not smoking.
3. Do not Ignore Calcium
Calcium is an essential mineral for bone, not only one though. Along with a healthy diet, you need to eat calcium-rich foods to meet the daily recommended requirement for your age.
Often people resort to calcium supplements but that is necessary only when you have negative calcium state or vitamin D deficiency.
In contrast to popular belief, taking higher doses of calcium does not help the bone heal faster.
4. Follow Your Doc
You need to follow your doctor’s advice after satisfying yourself that you are being treated rightly [In case of doubt, a second opinion can be sought].
Adhere to the recommendations and instruction about plaster care, walking, movements, and diet, etc.
By altering the instructions, you might be delaying/damaging your bone healing.
By removing a cast or walking on a broken bone before your doctor allows, you may be delaying your healing time.
5. Choose the Best Treatment for Your Profile
A fracture may be treated by more than one methods. Often the doctor is able to explain to you the better treatment. But sometimes, the treatment has to be chosen by the patient when both the methods are known to work equally.
You might want to choose a conservative if you can tolerate a cast for some time or surgery if you wish better control on mobilization sooner.
6. Healing Augmentation
There are many external devices available which claim to accelerate fracture healing. These include electrical stimulation, ultrasound treatment, and magnetic stimulators.
But none of them has proven and consistent results. However, they can be added as treatment adjuncts in difficult cases.
7. Avoid Certain Drugs
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are often prescribed for pain conditions. These are also prescribed in fractures.
In lab animal models NSAIDs have been shown to delay fracture healing. It is not known how much they could contribute to healing reduction in humans.
One of the golden rules is to reduce medication for pain as and when needed. In precarious situations with poor healing shifting to other pain drugs like opioids could be a choice.
In the case of osteoporotic fractures, the drugs that increase bone mass – calcitonin, bisphosphonates could actually accelerate the healing.
Having a fracture is painful and inconvenient. Prolonged healing period adds to the problems.
Therefore, strict to good habits and keep these tips on bone healing in mind.