5 Tips for Optimizing Your Bone Health After a Fracture

Our bones can take between weeks to several months to heal. The healing process will depend on the severity of the fracture, our individual biological processes and how well we follow the doctor’s recommendations.

Medical care is needed immediately after a bone is fractured. If the broken bone is the result of major trauma or injury, make sure to call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If a person with a fractured bone does not get treatment from a doctor, there is a chance that the bone will heal in an unusual position.

Prehab means strengthening your body before surgery to help us bounce back faster. Generally, prehab begins at least six weeks prior to surgery. In this article, we will be discussing prehab (pre-surgery-rehab), to ensure optimal conditions so our body can heal quickly after surgery.

Here are 5 tips on optimizing your bone health after a fracture. 

Exercising

Exercising and being active before surgery is a great way to help speed up your recovery.

It is commonly observed that patients who followed prehab practices typically needed less supervised physical therapy. Meaning that they can go home quicker, rather than being forced to stay at an in-patient rehabilitation facility. Most of us would prefer to recover from surgery in the comfort of our own home and have the option to follow up with our therapist on an as-needed basis.

Research carried out by Boston University has shown that patients who participated in six weeks of pre-surgery workouts were 73% less likely to need in-patient rehabilitation. Their workout sessions included aquatic/land-based strength training and a combination of aerobic and flexibility exercises.

Strengthening exercises can also be helpful for recovery. As an example, someone undergoing knee surgery may benefit from strengthening the muscles around their knees in the months leading up to surgery. Exercising your core and arms can also be important as you’ll need to rely on your upper body strength to hold yourself up when using crutches, stand up from a seated position or get out of bed.

You could also consider joining a Yoga class. This can help prepare your mind and body for surgery through relaxation techniques and soothing movements. Participating in these activities may also improve sleep and help you maintain a healthy weight.

“The benefits of exercise before surgery are very clear: The more you can do for yourself physically before surgery, the better off you will be,” as quoted by Daniel Rooks, Ph.D. assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School

Quit Smoking

We all know that smoking is bad for our health overall. Research also suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Try to quit smoking for your overall health, or at least refrain from lighting up right before your operation. People who smoke before their surgery have a higher chance of developing surgical site infections than non-smokers.

Smoking also decreases our body’s blood flow which can cause post-surgery complications such as an increased risk of getting a heart attack, shock, stroke, and even death. “Don’t smoke, and if you do smoke, try to stop smoking at least two weeks before your operation. Every cigarette counts. If you can’t stop smoking two weeks before your operation, at least don’t smoke the day of it.” says Dr. Joyce Wahr, a professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Quit Alcohol

Alcohol is very high in calories. Our body processes and stores alcohol as sugar, which eventually converts to fat. People who drink excessively usually carry more weight around than those who abstain. Regularly having more than one alcoholic drink a day for women or two alcoholic drinks a day for men may also increase the risk of osteoporosis. Which is counter-productive towards a person’s recovery.

You should consider drinking clear, carbo-loaded liquids prior to your surgery. Consuming clear liquids that contain complex carbohydrates can help reduce nausea, vomiting, and pain after surgery. Examples of clear liquids that are acceptable to drink before surgery include water, fruit juices without pulp, clear tea, and black coffee. Such drinks can also help reduce the short-term insulin resistance experienced by many patients who fast before surgery, which can increase complications and pain.

Unfortunately, too many people are stuck in the prison of alcoholism. We understand that everyone on Earth has done things that they regret. But, hard drinkers tend to do more regrettable things and are more likely to get into an accident while drunk than sober. Alcohol could potentially be the reason why the person got a fracture in the first place.

We urge all our readers to quit alcohol or at least reduce the consumption of it, as the health benefits far outweigh any perceived benefits of drinking.

Consume Plenty of Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. It is used to regenerate our bones and keep them healthy. Furthermore, it enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and keeps our heart beating in our chest.

A diet low in calcium can contribute to decreasing bone density, early bone loss and an increased risk of fractures. For adults ages, 19 to 50 and men ages 51 to 70, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium a day. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg a day for women after age 50 and for men after age 70.

Since calcium is not made in the body and our bones are continually losing small amounts of it, we need to consume calcium to maintain strong bones. You can find food rich in calcium from dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, many non-dairy sources are also high in this mineral. For example seeds, sardines, and canned salmon, beans and lentils, almonds, whey protein, rhubarb, amaranth, edamame, and tofu are all rich in calcium.

Increase Vitamin D Intake

This nutrient makes sure we can absorb calcium from the food we eat and can be found in orange juice, almond milk, and many of the same foods that contain protein and calcium.

Your body produces vitamin D naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in your blood.

Vitamin D also plays a part in weight loss, a study done in Cambridge University has shown that people taking daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement.

The Bottom Line

You should approach your surgery date as you would a competition, game, or fitness event. Try and get yourself in top condition by exercising and following a good diet, maintaining a good sleeping habit, in addition to quitting smoking and alcohol. Consequently, your commitment to recovery, before the surgery takes place, plays a large factor in achieving the ultimate goal – Complete recovery. 

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