How Fractures Occur
Fractures occur because an area of bone is not able to support the energy placed on it. There are two factors in why a fracture occurs: the energy of the event and the strength of the bone.
The energy can be sudden, high-energy (e.g. car crash), or chronic, low-energy (e.g. stress fracture). The bone strength can either be normal or decreased (for example, weak bone is seen in patients with osteoporosis). A very simple problem, the broken bone, just became a whole lot more complicated!
Most Common Broken Bones
Orthopedic surgeons treat fractures throughout the skeletal frame, except for the skull (neurosurgeon) and face (ENT, or ear, nose, and throat surgeon).
Healing Broken Bones
Healing a broken bone takes time, and many patients don’t want to be patient! Healing a broken bone is a process related to factors including patient age, overall health, nutrition, blood flow to the bone, and treatment. Following these six tips may help:
Some of the recommendations in this list may be controversial, or unknown the extent to which they affect bone healing. However, this much is clear: patients who smoke, have a much longer average time to healing, and a much higher risk of developing a nonunion (non-healing of the bone). Smoking alters the blood flow to bone, and it is that blood flow that delivers the necessary nutrients and cells to allow the bone to heal. The number one thing you can do to ensure your recovery from a fracture is not smoke. If you know someone who has a fracture and smokes, find ways to help them quit.
Eat a Balanced Diet.
Healing of bone requires more nutrients that the body needs to simply maintain bone health. Patients with injuries should eat a balanced diet, and ensure adequate nutritional intake of all food groups. What we put in to our body determines how well the body can function and recover from injury. If you break a bone, make sure you are eating a balanced diet so that your bone has the necessary nutrition to make a full recovery.
Watch Your Calcium.
Patients with broken bones tend to focus on this one, and I place it below balanced diet, because the focus should be on all nutrients. It’s true that calcium is needed to heal bones, but taking excessive doses of calcium will not help you heal faster. Ensure you are consuming the recommended dose of calcium, and if not, try to consume more natural calcium–or consider a supplement. Taking mega-doses of calcium does not help a bone heal faster.
Adhere to Your Treatment Plan. Your doctor will recommend a treatment, and you should adhere to this. Your doctor may recommend treatments including cast, surgery, crutches, or others. Altering the treatment ahead of schedule may delay your recovery. By removing a cast or walking on a broken bone before your doctor allows, you may be delaying your healing time.
Augmenting Fracture Healing. Most often, external devices are not too helpful in accelerating fracture healing. Electrical stimulation, ultrasound treatment, and magnet have not been shown to accelerate the healing of most fractures. However, in difficult situations, these may be helpful to aid in the healing of broken bones.
Everyone wants their bone to heal as quickly as possible, but the truth is that it will still require some time for the injury to recover. Taking these steps will ensure that you are doing everything you can to make your bone recovers as soon as possible.