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Fighting fractures

Dr Rangesh Paramesh, Dec 8, 2012:

Resulting from excessive force, a fracture is defined as a complete or incomplete break in bone tissue, which compromises its ability to support the body. It is a common injury that can be treated with a cast. In more complicated cases, a surgery may be required.

Over the last thirty years, fracture rates have gone up three fold and India tops the chart.† According to a recent study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 4.4 lakh Indians suffer from hip fractures annually; a number that is likely to increase to six lakh by 2020. Osteoporosis, a condition in which bones are abnormally weakened, can also lead to frequent bone breaks. With an estimated 39 million osteoporosis patients in India by 2013, the situation just gets worse.

Tips

It is important to remember that the first forty-eight hours after the injury is most crucial. A first aid technique comprising rest, ice/bandage compression, elevation of the injured area and doctor’s consultation will prevent the injury from becoming worse.

Healing a broken bone can take anywhere between a few weeks to two months, depending on the injury. During this time, it’s important to follow a few healthy guidelines:

* Eat a balanced diet: Healing bones need extra nutrients. Therefore, it is important that patients with fractures consume a balanced diet, which includes all food groups. Milk, cheese, curd, vegetables and shellfish are good sources of calcium, and must be included in the diet.

* Quit smoking: Patients who smoke have a much longer healing time. Smoking alters blood flow to the bones and lowers oxygen level in blood, which results in failure or delayed healing of bone, skin and other soft tissues around the injury.

* Reduce alcohol consumption: It is best to avoid alcohol altogether, while nursing a broken bone. Alcohol slows down the formation of new bone cells and decreases their ability to respond to signals that normally trigger bone formation after a fracture.

* Eliminate caffeine: Calcium is an important mineral for bone building. Avoid consumption of coffee, colas, and other caffeinated drinks as they increase the rate of calcium loss in urine.

* Don’t overdo: Exercise is an important way to accelerate fracture healing. But, do not overdo this exercise as it can lead to stress on the broken bone.

Healing with hadjod

Hadjod (Cissus quadrangula) is translated as ‘(the one) that unites broken bones’ in Hindi, while its Sanskrit equivalent, Asthisamharaka, literally means ‘protecting bones from destruction’. The plant, which grows in abundance in India, is credited with potent fracture healing properties in Ayurveda.

Hadjod contains good amounts of calcium and other constituents which influence quick regeneration of connective tissues around the broken bones. The plant also ensures early ossification (natural process of bone formation) and proper remodeling of bones, resulting in faster healing and quicker recovery time.

Hadjod also stimulates new bone growth, fortifies bone tensile strength and prevents the loss of bone minerals, which is useful in preventing osteoporosis-related fractures. In fact, it is known to increase the uptake of minerals calcium, phosphorus, sulphur and strontium. As an anti-inflammatory agent, it relieves fracture-related aches. Moreover, it also possesses free radical-scavenging properties, which reduces oxidative stress.


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