One of the biggest fears faced by people with osteopenia and osteoporosis is the heightened risk of breaking a bone. Even if you don’t have either of these bone-weakening conditions, bone fractures can occur from the force of a fall or the impact of an accident. Sometimes, you can fracture a bone without experiencing a trauma with stress fractures arising from repetitive forces most commonly through running, playing a lot of sport or overusing your hands the same way day-in-day out.
While anyone can break a bone, your risk is greatly increased if you have osteoporosis with this disease linked to more than a million fractures each year.
Different types of fracture
Broken bones are referred to as fractures by healthcare and medical professionals. They are categorised into different types with the most common ones including:
- Stable fracture – the mildest form where the broken ends of a bone are barely out of place
- Stress fracture – sometimes called a hairline fracture
- Greenstick fracture – an incomplete fracture
- Transverse fracture – a break in a straight line across the bone.
- Oblique fracture – where the break runs diagonally across the bone
- Spiral fracture – where the break spirals around the bone
- Compound or Open fracture – where the broken bone comes through the skin
- Comminuted fracture – where the bone is fractured in several places
All fractures can adversely affect your ability to complete everyday tasks but two of the most worrying are those of the hip or pelvis which, due to them severely limiting your mobility, can be life changing.
Symptoms of a broken bone
- Pain directly on top of the bone
- Pain when applying pressure or moving the injured limb.
- Sudden and severe swelling
- Bruising over the top of the bone
- Being unable to move a part of your body
- A bump on your bone
The typical healing time for broken bones is six to eight weeks – but this depends on your type or fracture, your age and the health of your bones. Breaks in smaller bones – such as in the hands and feet – greenstick and stress fractures can heal in four to six weeks, while bigger bones take longer to heal: several months in some cases.
Generally speaking, the older you are, the longer it will take your bones to heal: some elderly people may find their fractures never fully heal. Again, advanced osteoporosis will make it harder and slower for broken bones to heal.
Foods for faster bone healing
Good nutrition is key to building bone tissue with collagen, protein, calcium and vitamin D all essential to boost bone tissue turnover. In addition, other vitamins and minerals help hold these essential nutrients in your body, so pay special attention to a healthy diet to get the best balance for your bone health.
When it comes to bone healing, protein is the star nutrient. Making up around 50% of the volume of bone, its most important component is collagen which makes up more than 90% of the organic bone matrix.
Good sources: Meat, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, seeds, beans and soy products.
Consider collagen as the building block for bone. While a certain amount can be sourced through consuming protein, to fast-track collagen in the most absorbable form for bones, it’s best to take collagen peptides which have been made bioavailable to bone tissue, such as bonebalance™.
Crucial to your body’s ability to make collagen which, in turn, will help heal bone fractures.
Good sources: Oranges, kiwi fruit, berries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and green vegetables.
Another essential nutrient to help your body make collagen, it’s also vital to bring oxygen in your blood to your bones.
Good sources: meat, chicken or turkey, oily fish, eggs, dried fruits, leafy green vegetables and whole-grain breads.
This mineral helps you build strong bones and adults should get between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day.
Good sources: milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, broccoli, kale, soy, beans, tinned tuna and salmon and fortified cereals.
A vital vitamin that helps your blood take in and use calcium.
Good sources: egg yolks, oily fish, sardines, liver and cod liver oil.
Key to hold calcium in the body long enough to reach your bones.
Good sources: Bananas, orange juice, potatoes, nuts, seeds, fish, meat, and milk.
Sleep – your secret weapon
Time is a healer but also essential are good quality sleep and nutritious food. The all-important growth hormones needed by the body to heal an injury are released during the ‘deep sleep’ phases which typically occur every 90-minutes of shut-eye.
It goes without saying that the best ways to avoid a fracture are to minimise your risk of falling and strengthen your bones through diet and lifestyle. Keeping physically active and strong is your first line of defence to avoid falling while consuming the essential nutrients above will help you build strong, healthy and flexible bones.