What Causes Fractures?
Posted 10/27/2017 by UHBlog
The human skeleton is made up of 206 bones with the largest bone being your femur and the smallest bone being the stapes, a stirrup-shaped bone in the middle ear. As an athlete, fracturing even one bone will set you back in your routine.
According to orthopedic sports surgeon Daniel Zanotti, MD, a fracture or break in your bone isn’t always preventable.
“Some accidents are unavoidable, like a direct fall or blow,” Dr. Zanotti says. “However, a common way that athletes sustain fractures is through repetitive use. When you put too much stress on your bones, it can lead to a fracture.”
Dr. Zanotti explains that unlike a fracture caused by a direct blow, stress fractures are progressive. They will get worse over the course of a season or over time.
Recovering from a fracture is not a quick process. Although it depends on the severity of the fracture, healing time can take anywhere from six to eight weeks.
“Healing time depends on the fracture location and how that bone is utilized,” he says. “Depending on where and how bad a fracture is, it may require surgery to fix. Other fractures will heal well in a cast or brace.”
If a fracture occurs in a weight-bearing bone or a sport-essential bone, such as a baseball player’s finger, then you won’t be able to play through your injury.
To minimize your chances of a fracture, you can:
- Cross-train. “Avoid constant, repetitive activity,” says Dr. Zanotti. “By utilizing different muscles through cross-training, you can avoid stress fractures.”
- Eat well and supplement. A balanced diet will help protect your bones and a multivitamin goes a long way.
“You always hear about calcium, which is important,” he says. “However, a lot of vitamins and minerals are important for bone health. Malnutrition and eating disorders can create deficiencies in your bones.”
- Upgrade your equipment. Investing in proper running shoes and the right equipment for your sport will help prevent injuries.
- Catch some Zs. The importance of a good night’s sleep in bone health can’t be overlooked.
“Similarly to what sleep does to your immune system, it helps rejuvenate bones,” Dr. Zanotti says. “Without it, you increase your risk of fracture.”
Most importantly, your bones will become less dense as you age and more prone to fractures. Developing bone-healthy habits now can prevent future injuries.
“The importance of diet is real, especially as you get older,” Dr. Zanotti says. “You want to minimize your risk of fracture by modifying and diversifying your activities to lower the impact on your bones.”
Daniel Zanotti, MD is an orthopaedic specialist at University Hospitals Sheffield Health Center / Center for Orthopedics. You can request an appointment with Dr. Zanotti or any other doctor online.