What You Need to Know About Bone Healing
Bone fractures are very serious to our health as we age. More than you may think. Consider that the 6-month mortality rate from hip fractures and the complications that result is 13.5%!
By year 2 the mortality rate from fractures rises to 20%!
Fractures are more likely to happen later in life (due to thinning bones) – exactly at a stage when staying active is so critical. And sadly, while trying to heal from a fracture, our bones continue to thin at an accelerated pace due to the sudden inactivity – beginning an unfortunate downward spiral.
Normally all the doctor advises us is to stay off the injured limb. But the good news is you can speed up the healing process…but before we get to that, what do YOU need to know first?
Well, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, bone healing, whether from a surgical procedure or a fracture through an injury, goes through the same process.
There are three stages:
- Inflammation: Begins immediately after the bone is fractured and can last for several days. “When the bone is fractured there is bleeding into the area, leading to inflammation and clotting of blood at the fracture site.”
- Bone Production: This next step occurs when the blood that is clotted from the inflammation is then replaced with fibrous tissue and cartilage. It then is replaced with hard bone.
- Bone Remodeling: The final step of bone healing goes on for several months. In this remodeling stage the bone, “continues to form and become compact, returning to its original shape.” Blood circulation will also start to improve in this area again.
Once the bone healing process has reached a certain point and you have been approved by your healthcare provider, weight bearing exercises are encouraged to continue the bone remodeling.
How Long Does The Bone Healing Process Take?
This depends on the individual. The bone healing process is a three stage, complex process and the speed can vary depending on the person.
The time that it takes for the bone healing process to complete also depends on a variety of factors such as:
- Medical conditions
- Nutritional Status
In general, bone healing can take 6-8 weeks to heal (not completely, but a significant amount). As mentioned above, age is a big factor. Children’s bones tend to heal quicker than adults.
Another consideration is, “the location and severity of the fracture, the type of surgical procedure performed [if any] and other considerations.”
5-Steps To Speed Bone Fracture Healing
Diet and supplementation are essential to the bone growing process.
Including real, whole foods in your diet such as plentiful vegetables, fruits, nuts, cold-water fatty fish like salmon, and legumes. Plus, cutting out highly processed and sugary foods will provide your bones with what they need.
And in addition, taking a clinically supported, multi-nutrient bone supporting supplement will also promote bone healing. Supplementation will ensure that your bones are getting the adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals needed in case of any shortfall from your diet.
Finally, once the bone is adequately healed you can start physical therapy, which will play a role in rehabilitation.
Increase Blood Flow
The more blood that reaches the bone, the better for healing. So things like smoking, which diminishes blood flow, will definitely slow the healing process.
Increase Calorie Intake
Studies show that as much as 3x your normal intake of calories will help to speed up recovery.
Your metabolism is essentially working overtime in repairing bone, so rather than a typical caloric intake of 2500 per day, you may benefit from as much as 6000 calories per day to speed recovery. Giving you a perfect, scientifically backed excuse to chow down on your favorite healthy treats and snacks.
Increase Protein Intake
Because bone is approximately half protein by volume, it is very important to speed up fracture repair.
Protein helps make up the scaffolding of our bones, and is what crucial minerals like calcium attaches to. Today’s science shows that even increasing your protein intake by as little as 20 grams per day can reduce fracture healing time.
Notorious free radicals, that have been implicated as a main culprit of aging, also negatively affect bone healing. But antioxidants keep the oxidizing effect of free radicals in check, and have been proven to improve fracture healing time in animal studies.
Foods with the high antioxidant content include turmeric curcumin, artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, red and white potatoes (with peel), sweet potatoes and broccoli, avocados, cherries, green and red pears, fresh or dried plums, pineapple, kiwi and others.
Berries, green tea and nuts are also good sources and can all contribute to a faster bone healing time.
Increase Mineral Intake
If you’re like most you probably are deficient in essential minerals in your diet.
They are so important, and especially so if you’ve suffered a fracture. Because about 70% of the weight of our bones is due to the minerals. And contrary to what we learned growing up, the bones aren’t only made of calcium, but many other trace minerals such as vanadium, manganese, silica.
All these minerals are found in your bones, so to reduce your healing time, it’s crucial to have ample amounts in your diet.
If you can stick to an all organic diet with lots of calcium rich foods, fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats you will likely get all the minerals you need for fastest healing.
However, today’s more typical western diet consists of mineral deficient foods, due to mass production. If that more closely describes what you eat, then that’s where supplements come in.
A good multi-mineral and calcium supplement will ensure that you aren’t shortchanging your bones of the building blocks they need.
What You Shouldn’t Do
There are a variety of factors that can hinder and slow down the bone healing process. These include but are not limited to:
- Advanced Age
- Poor nutrition
- Certain Medications (such as immunosuppressants)
- Medication conditions such as vascular disease or diabetes
- Weight-bearing too soon
Bone healing is a complicated and complex process. Following a healthy diet and supplementing with a clinically supported, multi-nutrient bone supporting supplement is important to stick to during this process. Additionally, cutting out smoking as well as not being too eager to start exercising too soon, are also ways in which you can speed up the bone healing process.