Living with a broken bone (fracture).

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Living with a broken bone is probably going to be inconvenient for a while and you will probably have to do things differently until you are back to your healthy self. There are various things to take into consideration to make life a little bit easier.

Make Your Home Safer

You may be using crutches, a walking frame, a sling or another aid. And moving around might be slower and/or more difficult. Ask your family or friends to help make your home safer. Possibly rearranging the furniture, to make a safe wide path through each room, and maybe arrange for a bed to be on the first floor until you can climb the stairs again. Nightlight plugs can be useful if you need to get up in the night. And always keep a mobile or cordless phone at arms' reach, so you can call for help, especially if you live alone.

Make Daily Tasks Easier

Food: Ask family and friends to shop for you or order groceries online for delivery. Ready meals are the easy option or choose to east simple salad or jacket potato meals - but try to eat a healthy diet. Your body requires more nutrients, protein, and calories as fracture healing requires a lot of energy and can increase your metabolism significantly. Depending on the injury, your body could require up to double your normal caloric intake! Protein is particularly important during this time because about half of bone is comprised of protein. The major mineral in bones is calcium, so try to include foods high in this important mineral such as  green leafy vegetables, salmon, sardines with bones, and unsweetened cultured dairy like yogurt.
If you live alone sitting on a chair or high stool with a back while fixing meals helps and slide pots and dishes along the counter instead of lifting whenever you can. While I first had a broken leg, I found an office chair on wheels to be very useful for getting to the kitchen and the bathroom!

Bathing: This needs a bit of forethought! You may need to keep a dressing or cast dry - so waterproof dressing/cast cover. Then for example with my broken leg I found a shower stool to be extremely useful. You may also need help to get in and out of the shower. A non-slip mat in the shower and a non-slip floor mat outside the shower can also avoid a fall. If you struggle to reach your feet, lower legs and back a long handled sponge might be the answer. 

Getting dressed: Sounds easy - but for example if you have a broken leg you will need to sit down to get underwear, trousers, tights, socks or shoes on. As a wearer of mostly kitten heel shoes in the past flat shoes have become my favourite type - mostly trainers! 
 

Be kind to yourself

Painkillers: If you are in pain and have been offered pain medication from your Doctor - take it when you need it - don't be a hero!  Please note that aspirin and ibuprofen slow healing - inflammation is an important part of the cleaning and re-building process of healing a fracture, and as Ibuprofen and aspirin inhibit this necessary inflammation they therefore delay healing. 

Relaxation: Read, do crossword puzzles, or play online games. Call a friend or family member at least once a day to stay connected. Go to social events such as family get-togethers or lunches with friends, whenever you can manage it. 

Don't smoke:  How does cigarette smoking affect bone healing? With less oxygen, the body has a more difficult time healing the skin where the surgery is performed. If surgery involves the bones of the foot or ankle, smoking may prevent the bones from healing, which is called a nonunion. ... New research also shows that some smokers may have more pain after surgery than nonsmokers. 

Activity: You may need to rest your broken bone as much as possible and for example with a broken leg avoid any weight bearing on it. Then when your doctor is ready he and a physio will recommend appropriate exercises for you to do - even if these are painful it is important to do the exercises. 

Non-union

With modern treatment methods, most broken bones (fractures) heal without any problems. After a broken bone is treated, new bone tissue begins to form and connect the broken pieces. 

Some broken bones do not heal even when they get the best surgical or nonsurgical treatment. In some cases, certain risk factors make it more likely that a bone will fail to heal. When a broken bone fails to heal it is called a "nonunion." A "delayed union" is when a fracture takes longer than usual to heal. 

I was diagnosed with a non-union - which seems to be as a result of the fairly large gap between the broken ends of my tibia, and the inadequate blood supply due to the plate inserted during the emergency surgery after my accident lying right against the bone.

My Orthopaedic Consultant suggested that I to try a Bone Stimulator Exogen® Ultrasound machine. After several months of using the Exogen® Ultrasound machine daily for 20 minutes in the comfort of my own home I'm healing really well and I'm extremely happy that I will be avoiding further surgery. 

Melanie Waldron