Millions of people break bones every year across the United States. These injuries — also known as fractures — can vary from a thin hairline crack to bone completely broken or even shattered into multiple pieces. In most cases, the severity of the break depends on the amount of force the bone experienced. For example, the pounding of a runner’s feet against the ground can lead to fine hairline breaks, but the impact from a car accident can snap or crush a bone.
Dr. Eric E. Johnson offers expert orthopaedic care in fracture care to people in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Though you may not be able to prevent all types of broken bones, you can take action to avoid the three most common.
Believe it or not, one of the most common sports injuries involves stress fractures.
Stress fractures develop when you overuse your muscles, which limits their ability to absorb additional shock. In response, the muscles transfer the extra stress to bone, causing tiny cracks — or stress fractures — to form.
More than 50% of stress fractures occur in the lower legs and feet, typically from:
- Increasing the intensity or amount of an activity too quickly
- Using improper athletic equipment, like worn-out or inappropriate running shoes
- Switching to a new surface, like going from a soft clay to a hardcourt in tennis
- Increasing physical stress through more playing time
Stress fractures can affect people of all ages, but Dr. Johnson says you can reduce your risks by cross-training, eating a healthy diet, and using proper equipment. It’s also crucial to set incremental goals, especially when you start a new activity. And don’t forget to stop immediately to rest if you experience any pain or swelling.
A leading cause of broken bones involves some sort of trauma. But you may be surprised to learn a major cause of these injuries: falling.
An estimated one in three Americans over 65 falls each year. The result? More than 2.8 million older adults need emergency room care for fall-related injuries, like fractures. But falling doesn’t have to be part of the aging process.
To avoid fall-related injuries, Dr. Johnson recommends:
- Understanding medical risk factors that lead to falls, like illness, pain, or certain medications
- Getting your vision checked
- Performing a home fall risk assessment to look for tripping hazards
- Exercising regularly, including strength, flexibility, and balancing activities like yoga
- Wearing shoes that provide support and stability
You should also use mobility aids to help if you have balance problems or muscle weakness, like canes or walkers.
Approximately 54 million Americans have osteoporosis, including half of women 50 and older. This serious problem involves thinning of the bones, which significantly increases the risk of fracture — even from a cough, sneeze, or no activity at all.
Now for the good news. There are ways to keep your bones strong and healthy, and the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be at 50 and beyond. Dr. Johnson says this involves three essential things, including:
- A diet that includes plenty of calcium, vitamin D, and protein
- Exercising regularly, especially weight-bearing and resistance activities
- Healthy choices, like not smoking, limiting alcohol, and maintaining a healthy weight
Additionally, you can undergo regular bone mineral density tests. These screenings help monitor your bone health, so you can have a personalized plan to better reduce your risk of fractures in the future.
Do you need fracture or orthopaedic care? Contact Eric E. Johnson, MD, to schedule a consultation call 424-309-1492 today.