Breaking a bone can stop us all in our tracks, no matter what age we are. But particularly for women in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, a fracture can come with a lot of fear and, worst of all, the feeling of helplessness. With 9 million osteoporotic fractures occurring every year, you should know that you can do more than just sit back and let it heal. We have much more influence over the healing process than many practitioners convey. Everything from what you eat to how you move can speed or slow down healing.
Here are three ideas that will have you on a fast track to heal your fracture
1. Aspirin and ibuprofen slow healing. What do you reach for when you’re in pain? So many of the people I talk with at the Center for Better Bones say aspirin and ibuprofen are their first choices when in pain. But these anti-inflammatory medications can delay the healing process. Inflammation is an important part of the cleaning and re-building process of healing a fracture. Ibuprofen and aspirin inhibit this necessary inflammation and therefore delay healing. A better choice for pain relief would be acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol). And I always suggest more natural supplements like vitamin C, quercetin, and omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Your body requires more nutrients, protein, and calories. Fracture healing requires a lot of energy and can increase your metabolism significantly. Depending on the injury, your body could require up to double your normal caloric intake! Protein is particularly important during this time because about half of bone is comprised of protein. The protein matrix is where mineral crystals (the other half of bone) are laid to build strength. Supplementing your diet with minerals like zinc, copper, calcium, phosphorus, and silicon will give your body the building blocks for strong new bone. Vitamins C, D, K, and B6 also specifically help in the bone building process. So don’t skimp on alkalizing fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and quality protein.
3. Exercise may be a good thing. Though it may seem like the last thing on your list, exercising is a key component to speeding fracture healing. For one thing, it increases blood flow to the fractured area, flooding the area with more nutrients to help with healing. Joint loading also prompts the bone to increase matrix synthesis. Of course you’ll want to avoid direct stress on the broken bone, but try range of motion, tendon-gliding, and joint-loading exercises — talk to your practitioner about specific exercises, or get a referral for physical therapy.
There are many other things you can do to speed fracture healing. For more detailed information, read my full article on how to speed fracture healing. You’re not helpless when it comes to healing a fracture. Give yourself a hand with the right bone support.