Recovering from a bone injury takes time, and it can be an arduous and frustrating process. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to ensure that the process happens as quickly as possible, and things you can avoid to help prevent reinjury and complications.
Do: Get Enough Rest
Rest is essential for healing because it allows the body to focus its energy on repairing damaged tissues and fighting off infections. When the body is at rest, it can divert more blood flow to the injured area, which provides the necessary nutrients and oxygen to promote healing.
Rest also helps to reduce inflammation and pain, which can further aid the healing process. During rest, the body releases growth hormones that stimulate tissue growth and repair.
Do: Eat A Balanced Diet
Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to build and maintain strong bones. Calcium and vitamin D are essential nutrients for building and maintaining strong bones. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and fortified foods. Vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb calcium. Your body can produce vitamin D from sun exposure or you can take additional supplements.
Although some additional supplements, such as magnesium, vitamin K, and strontium, have been shown to support bone health, it's important to talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements as they might interfere with any chronic medication you might be on.
Do: Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is crucial for your body to function properly and to support healing. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, or more if you're exercising or in a hot climate.
Proper hydration can flush out toxins from the body and help improve blood flow to the injured area, which can provide the necessary nutrients and oxygen to promote healing. When the body is properly hydrated, the immune system can function more efficiently, which can help fight off infections and promote healing.
Do: Keep Your Injury Clean
If your bone injury included a break in the skin, or orthopaedic surgery as part of the treatment plan, it is crucial to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions on how to clean and care for the site. Keeping the site of an injury clean promotes healing by reducing the risk of infection.
When an injury occurs, the body's immune system responds by sending white blood cells to the site of the injury to fight any foreign particles, such as bacteria or viruses, that may have entered the wound. However, if the wound is not kept clean, bacteria can accumulate and multiply, making it difficult for the immune system to keep up with the infection.
Keeping the wound clean also helps to remove dead tissue and debris, allowing new tissue to form and the wound to close more quickly. This process is also important for preventing the development of scar tissue, which can limit mobility and cause pain. By removing dead tissue and debris, the body can focus on rebuilding new tissue and closing the wound, promoting faster healing.
Do: Incorporate Gentle Forms Of Exercise
Regular exercise can help improve circulation and support your body's healing process. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including injured areas, which can help deliver oxygen, nutrients, and immune cells needed for healing. Exercise can also help reduce inflammation. Although inflammation is a natural response to injury, it can become harmful if it is excessive or chronic.
It's important to listen to your body and avoid overexertion or exercises that could worsen your injury. It's important to talk to your doctor or physical therapist before starting or changing an exercise routine, especially if you have an injury. They can help you develop a safe and effective exercise plan that's tailored to your specific needs and goals.
Don’t: Over Exercise
Although exercise is a great way to reduce stress, over-exercising places too much stress on the body, which can lead to inflammation, tissue damage, and prolonged recovery time. Over-exercising might also lead to reinjury due to excessive movement of the injured bone, loss of coordination or excessive strain on surrounding areas.
When we exercise, we create micro-tears in our muscles, which then repair and grow stronger during the recovery process. However, if we over-exercise and create too many micro-tears, our body may struggle to keep up with the repair process, leading to inflammation and delayed healing. It's important to balance exercise with proper rest and recovery to allow the body to heal and adapt to the stress of exercise.
Don’t: Succumb To Stress
Recovering from an injury can be stressful, especially when the injury is preventing you from conducting your everyday activities or doing your job. Chronic stress triggers the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can interfere with the body's natural healing mechanisms. It can suppress the immune system, impair wound healing, and increase the risk of infections.
Stress can also lead to behaviours that can delay healing, such as poor sleep, unhealthy eating habits, and a lack of exercise. It is essential to manage stress to promote a healthy healing process, which can include techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and regular gentle exercise.
Smoking can delay healing because it can affect the body's ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissues that need to heal. When you inhale cigarette smoke, it causes damage to the lining of the lungs and reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported by the blood. This can lead to decreased oxygen delivery to the tissues, including those that need to heal.
Smoking reduces blood flow to the tissues by narrowing the blood vessels. This can further decrease the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the site of injury or surgery, making it harder for the tissues to heal. Smoking also impairs the immune system, which can make it harder for the body to fight off infections that can slow down the healing process.
Don’t: Drink Too Much
Alcohol consumption can interfere with the immune system, impairing the body's ability to fight off infections and heal wounds. This can lead to a longer healing process and an increased risk of complications. Alcohol can also affect the production of collagen, a protein that plays a key role in wound healing. Collagen is essential for the formation of new tissue, and alcohol can interfere with its production, making it more difficult for the body to repair itself.
Alcohol consumption can lead to dehydration, which can affect the body's ability to transport nutrients and oxygen to the site of the injury. Without adequate hydration, the body may not be able to deliver the necessary nutrients and oxygen to the cells involved in the healing process, leading to a delay in healing.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to liver damage, which can interfere with the body's ability to process medications and toxins. This can affect the effectiveness of any medications prescribed to aid in the healing process, further delaying recovery.
Do: Follow Your Healthcare Provider's Recommendations
Your healthcare provider will work with you to create a treatment plan for your injury. The best plan of action to optimise healing would be to follow their recommendations and to ensure that you're giving your body the best chance to heal. The treatment plan may include taking medication, attending physical therapy, or following specific lifestyle recommendations. Regular checkups with your doctor can also help to identify any underlying conditions that may affect your bone health, such as cancer or osteoporosis.
How To Help Your Injury Heal Faster
While recovering from a bone injury can be a challenging process, there are steps you can take to promote faster healing and avoid complications. Getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, keeping the injury site clean, and incorporating gentle forms of exercise are all recommended.
On the other hand, over-exercising, succumbing to stress, smoking and drinking are behaviours to avoid as they can prolong the healing process and lead to complications. It is essential to listen to your body, follow your healthcare provider's instructions, and seek medical attention if you experience any concerning symptoms during the healing process.