How can I promote bone growth?
August 28, 2005 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Help me fix my leg...

Back in July I broke my ankle quite badly, following a martini-related incident (or MRI) where I fell out of a tree. Several weeks down the line I'm still waiting for the consultants to let me put weight on it - and hence get back to work. Apparently I haven't had the bone growth they've hoped for.

So essentially - any tips for encouraging bone growth. Does drinking milk help, or some herbal remedy - or anything really. Evidence appreciated - but at this stage of desperation by no means essential!
posted by prentiz to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your best bet is following the advice of your orthopedist and primary care physician. Unfortunately, there is no "magic bullet" to speed healing, and bearing weight before your physicians recommend it's time will only create complications with resulting delays.
posted by cahlers at 5:29 PM on August 28, 2005

Don't rush the healing, listen to your doctors and therapists.

Personal anecdote: Eat extra protein and calcium along with a well rounded diet that includes whole grains and fresh fruits and veggies. Cottage cheese, good lean meat, yogurt, eggs.

Whenever I've done some hard exercise or activity that has obviously torn up or stressed my joints, muscles and tendons, I crave protein and calcium like a pica patient craves dirt. It does help me with the recovery times (and build useable muscle and other materials).

Otherwise, take it easy and be patient. You're repairing, not building. If you rush it you'll screw up the many delicate and complicated bones in your feet and ankles something fierce and never get anywhere near back to normal. There's a chance that you probably won't ever get back to 100% of 'normal', anyway, but don't mess around and make that a sure thing.
posted by loquacious at 6:39 PM on August 28, 2005

There have been studies on the use of electrical current to repair bones.
posted by WestCoaster at 6:49 PM on August 28, 2005

Follwing up on what WestCoaster said, my husband was prescribed this following complicated wrist reconstruction surgery. Even the orthopedic surgeon had to admit that "the science is a bit soft," meaning they're not sure why/if it works. The manufacturer goes to great lengths to hide the cost ($5K!) from the patient until collection time when they're obnoxious about getting fully paid.

BTW, since our experience I've seen them used on eBay for a few hundred dollars. They might need to be reprogrammed, though.
posted by DawnSimulator at 7:15 PM on August 28, 2005

Protein. My husband is recuperating from ortho surgery right now and his surgeon told him to eat lots of protein. (This is not the time to go on a diet, he stressed.)

Also, my husband was told by the hospital RN to stay away from most over-the-counter pain medications, as they can interfere with the bone healing.
posted by Sully6 at 7:16 PM on August 28, 2005

As sully6 said, no NSAIDS, which means the only OTC remedy I can currently take is Tylenol. (I had major ortho surgery, including bone grafts, three weeks ago.) They don't *want* the inflammation to go down, because it a)restricts my willingness to put stress on the healing area; and b)is an integral part of the healing process. Well balanced diet. Lots of protein and dairy products. Don't skimp on the whole grains or veggies, either.

Take it easy. do *NOT* rush it. Pushing limits is the best way to slow down recovery. (You should hear the stories my sister, a PT, tells.... oy) Ask your consultants what you should do to encourage bone re-growth and muscle rehabilitation. Then do it.
posted by jlkr at 7:29 PM on August 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Depending upon the type of injury you had, 8 weeks or more is not an unusual time to wait before putting weight on your leg; remember that your leg has to consistently support your entire body weight, unlike say, your arm. Be patient and ask your physician/nurse/and\or physical therapist what to expect, as they have probably seen patients with your problem before.
posted by TedW at 8:17 PM on August 28, 2005

As others said - take it easy, eat a well-balanced diet. Drink chamomile tea after calcium-heavy meals, as it'll help your body absorb the calcium

When a friend of mine broke his leg about a year ago, I think he had good luck with taking glucosamine, which regrows cartilage.

(disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, and never broken a bone, so haven't tried any of this out myself....)
posted by kalimac at 8:22 PM on August 28, 2005

also cut back on the martinis, alcohol inhibits and delays healing.
Prayer, or Focused Meditation, or Creative Visualization (whatever YOU call it) speeds healing.
posted by dkippe at 6:00 AM on August 29, 2005

I shattered my ankle in January and have just gotten to the point where it doesn't hurt more often than it does hurt. It is a long road back but you will get there (I ran for three minutes yesterday!), and as others have said, listen to your OS and therapists and ASK QUESTIONS. These people deal with so many patients that they inevitably forget that this is new to you and leave out information that could be useful to you.

I was lucky enough to not have problems with bone growth, so I can't help you there. I just increased my calcium intake (via supplements - I don't like milk) and had no problems. My bone is much stronger now than it was before the break.

But: If you haven't stumbled upon it already, My Broken Leg is an amazing resource for people who've snapped a stick. Having a community of people who've been through (or are going through) what you've gone through is absolutely invaluable. The people there are wonderful and will happily (and knowledgeably) answer any questions you have.

Best of luck in your recovery.

(Mine was a bimal fracture, requiring a plate and six screws. I was on two crutches for eight weeks, one crutch for another two weeks, and in the fracture boot for that entire time. I began PT around week 7 or 8 and it was amazing how quickly I began to turn the corner once that started. I just stopped limping a few months ago and I'm pain free most of the time now.)
posted by mike9322 at 9:32 AM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

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