For most people, recovering from a broken bone is an exercise in patience. For an active person, being told that you have to significantly reduce or cease activity in order to let the bone heal is equivalent to torture. However, there are a few things you can do to help speed the healing process so you can get back to your normal activities as soon as possible.
Stop taking NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) for Pain Relief
When cells are damaged in a fracture, large amounts of prostaglandins are released. Prostaglandins are a group of lipids made at sites of tissue damage or infection that are involved in dealing with injury and illness. They control processes such as inflammation, blood flow, the formation of blood clots and the induction of labor. Although this is what causes you to feel the pain, the production of these lipids are also instrumental to the early stages of tissue repair.
Here is the catch. In order to alleviate pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed to stop the action of prostaglandins, but the prostaglandins are quintessential to the healing process. The best suggestion would be stop taking the NSAIDs as soon as possible after suffering a broken bone. Alternatively, you could take a non-NSAID pain medication such as acetaminophen for pain relief, for it does not have the same effect on prostaglandins.
The broken bones of people who smoke take longer to heal. The smoke reduces blood flow, therefore reduces the amount of nutrients and oxygen getting to the injury site. The chemicals released in the blood from smoking damage the cells that form bone. This process and significantly decrease healing time or prevent complete healing altogether.
Get more Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K
These vitamins and minerals are all integral to healthy bone growth. We have all heard about how important calcium is in the diet, but if you take a lot of calcium without accompanying it with magnesium and vitamins D and K, much of that calcium will not be absorbed by your bones. Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens and Swiss chard are among the best sources of not only calcium, but magnesium and vitamin K as well. If you live in a sunny climate, you can get a good supply of vitamin D by sitting in the sun for 15-20 minutes a day with arms and legs exposed and using no sunblock. For those who live in less sun-drenched locations (and those of us waiting out the winter months), you can get vitamin D from fortified milk products or you can take a vitamin D supplement.
Reduce Your Sugar and Caffeine
Caffeine and sugar both increase the excretion of calcium from the bones by 25-50 percent. So try avoid the comfort foods!
Increase Your Intake of Protein Rich Foods
Nearly half of the compounds that make up your bones are comprised of protein. In order to give your bones the building blocks they need to speed healing and minimize further bone loss, incorporate more healthy protein into your diet, such as beans, nuts and fish or chicken.
Healing takes time but if you keep these simple tips in mind, you may find yourself up and about before you know it!
For Your Health,
Dr. Ryan Moorman