Author: Niki L. Carayannopoulos, DO
Whether a broken bone has you sitting on the bench mid-season, or whether it’s keeping you from enjoying your regular morning run, athletes and weekend warriors alike all agree:
Unfortunately, broken bones just take time. However, there are certainly steps you can take to promote good bone health and nudge your body along in the right direction. See three of my top recommendations for helping a bone fracture heal…
4 Ways to Promote Bone Fracture Healing
- Quit smoking. This one is key. Smoking can prevent the damaged bone from receiving adequate blood flow, which is especially critical in this time, as it is the blood that carries nutrient to the injury site. Of course, there are many other reasons to quit smoking, but better bone health is a great reason to start now.
- Eat well. Yes, calcium is important for bone health and healing. Yes, you should get your recommended calcium, whether that’s through whole foods, supplements or both. However, it is also important to focus on a well-balanced diet during this time. Protein helps rebuild tissue. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting. Vitamin C helps build collagen. The list goes on. In short: eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in minerals and nutrients; your body needs them now more than ever!
- Limit the use of NSAIDs. Short-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, may provide relief of pain and swelling following fracture, but long-term use of these medications has been linked to poor bone healing (delayed union or nonunion). Talk to your sports medicine physician about alternative medications you can take to address fracture pain and swelling.
- Stick to the treatment plan. If your sports medicine physician recommends crutches, use them. If you’re supposed to keep your arm in a sling, do it. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Of course, feel free to ask about alternatives and express any reasons why the proposed treatment plan may not work for you. You almost always have options. Just ask.
Stages of Bone Healing
In broad terms, there are three stages of bone fracture healing. The body’s natural healing process can be greatly benefited in all three stages with your active participation.
- Inflammation Phase: In this phase, immediately following fracture, blood clots and the body begins to clean the wound area. Cells begin to build new bone tissue and cartilage.
- Reparative Phase: Bone repair may take about six to 12 weeks, depending on a number of factors. During this phase new bone tissue develops as a soft callus, eventually becoming a hard callus.
- Remodeling Phase: In the remodeling phase the hard callus matures and strengthens.
Questions? See a Houston Sports Medicine Doctor
To learn more about healing a bone fracture, schedule an appointment with your Houston sports medicine physician by calling (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.