by: Dr. Edward Sirlin
Fractures, or broken bones, are a part of life for many people. Whether it’s a slip on an icy sidewalk, a sports-related injury, or an unfortunate accident, fractures can happen to anyone. The good news is that most common fractures can heal appropriately with the right care and attention. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss the process of healing common fractures and offer tips to help you with your recovery.
Understanding Common Fractures
Very common fractures that I routinely see in my practice are the wrist, ankle, clavicle, proximal humerus (shoulder), and hip fractures. Wrist fractures often occur when people break their fall by instinctively extending their arms. They’re common in sports like snowboarding and skateboarding or in accidents like slipping on wet floors. Ankle fractures are also very common and often result from slips and falls, twisting/rolling your ankle, and playing sports. A direct blow or fall on the shoulder can result in a collarbone or proximal humerus (shoulder) fracture. Proximal humerus and hip fractures often occur in older patients because of a slip and fall or loss of balance.
The Healing Process
It’s important to immobilize the affected area when a fracture occurs to prevent further damage. Splinting or casting can help stabilize the bone until proper medical attention is received. As soon as possible, visit a health care professional, preferably an orthopedic specialist, for a thorough evaluation of the fracture. X-rays or other imaging may be needed to assess the extent and type of fracture.
Once a fracture is diagnosed, most fractures require some form of immobilization to allow the bones to heal properly. This could involve a cast, splint, or brace, depending on the location and severity of the fracture. Many fractures may heal more reliably or in better alignment with surgery; this should be discussed with your surgeon.
Pain and swelling are common. Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medications may be helpful to manage discomfort. Elevating the injured area and giving it adequate rest are also helpful to reduce swelling and promote healing. After the initial healing phase, your orthopedist may recommend physical therapy to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected area.
Tips for a Faster, More Reliable Recovery
• Follow Medical Advice: Adhering to your health care provider’s instructions for care and follow-up appointments is crucial.
• Nutrition and Hydration: A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D supports bone health. Staying well-hydrated aids in overall recovery.
• Stay Active (When Appropriate): Depending on your injury, gentle movement and exercises recommended by a physical therapist can help prevent muscle atrophy and promote healing.
• Quit Smoking: Smoking can slow down the healing process. If you smoke, consider quitting or reducing your smoking during recovery.
• Protective Gear: If your injury resulted from a specific activity or sport, make sure to wear protective gear and take precautions to prevent future fractures.
Healing from common fractures is possible with the right care and patience. Remember that each fracture is unique, so it’s essential to consult with a health care professional for personalized advice and treatment tailored to your specific fracture. With proper care and attention to your fracture and your body’s needs, you’ll be well on your way to a successful recovery and back to your daily activities in no time.
Edward Sirlin, III, MD is an orthopedic surgeon at Foundation Orthopedics. He is board-certified and specializes in orthopedic trauma surgery and fracture care. He completed his medical school, Orthopedic residency, and Orthopedic Trauma Surgery fellowship at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA.