Men's Articles

Broken Bone

A fracture is a break in a bone, cartilage, tooth or other rigid body tissue, and may be either an open or closed fracture. In a closed fracture, the skin remains intact; in an open fracture, the skin is broken. Also, it is possible to sustain a fracture-dislocation, where a fracture of a bone occurs with a dislocation of an adjacent joint.

With a fracture, the injured person has pain and is unable to move the damaged area. Sometimes the body's protective mechanism minimizes the pain immediately after the injury, but the pain does increase gradually. Swelling and bruising also increase after the injury. With some mild fractures the injured person can move the damaged area; therefore, never assume an injury has not resulted in a fracture just because the person still has movement.

Medical attention should be sought immediately. Don't move the patient; control any bleeding and dress the wounds. If it is absolutely necessary to move the patient prior to medical help arriving, immobilize the affected area by splinting. Once at a hospital/clinic, X-rays are needed to determine the extent of the injury. If there is no bone displacement, the area can be protected with a cast. If there is bone displacement, the fracture has to be realigned through manipulation, then set with a cast. In some cases surgery is required to reposition and internally fixate the bone fragments.

An ankle bone fracture can occur in either side of the ankle, often tearing one or more of the ankle ligaments and temporarily dislocating the ankle joint. Signs and symptoms include severe ankle pain immediately after the injury; severe tenderness at the site of the injury; popping or feeling of tearing in the outer or inner part of the ankle; bruising immediately or soon after the injury; and general swelling throughout the ankle and foot. Forcing the ankle in the direction of the pain may reveal some looseness in the joint.

Treatment involves seeking immediate medical attention. Among your doctor's instructions may be directions for R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). The healing period can be as little as 6 weeks or as long as 12 months, depending on severity and whether surgery was required to correct. Physical therapy may be needed after the cast is removed. If normal activities are resumed too soon, the healing time will be prolonged and will increase proneness for repeat ankle injury.

A rib fracture is either a complete or incomplete fracture of any of the 12 ribs on either side of the body. Most rib fractures involve a sprain or rupture of the muscles, tendons or ligaments between the ribs. Signs and symptoms of a rib fracture include severe pain at the fracture site; tenderness to the touch; abdominal pain if the fractured rib is below the diaphragm; severe chest pain when sneezing, coughing or deep breathing; and swelling or bruising over the fracture site. Also, you may experience a feeling that you've had the "wind knocked out" of you.

Treatment involves seeking a doctor's advice. If the rib fractures are uncomplicated, wearing a binder or wrap may be needed for up to 4-6 weeks for alleviation of pain and for support. If the rib fracture also injures a lung, the liver or the spleen, treatment is needed immediately in a medical facility, and may involve surgery to repair.

A tibia fracture is a complete or incomplete break in one of the two large bones of the leg between the knee and ankle. Signs and symptoms of a tibia fracture include severe leg pain at the time of the injury; swelling of the soft tissue around the fracture; tenderness to the touch; and numbness and coldness in the leg and foot, if the blood supply has been impaired. Also, there may be visible deformity if the fracture is complete and bone fragments separate enough to distort normal leg contours.

Treatment for a tibia fracture involves seeking immediate medical attention. In the meantime, keep the person warm with blankets to prevent the onset of shock. If possible, cut away clothing, but don't move the leg to do so. The doctor will set the broken bones, and this may involve surgery if the skin at the injury site is broken. Sometimes the segments are fixed together with screws or metal plates. Immobilization of the leg will be necessary after realignment with a rigid cast placed around the leg to immobilize the knee and ankle. On average, the healing period for a tibia fracture is 6-8 weeks. Rehabilitation should begin when supportive wrapping is no longer needed.

Snap, Crack, Pop

A recent study from the Jean Mayer USDA and Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University shows that vitamin B12 may help you avoid a fracture. Researchers measured bone-mineral density and vitamin Biz levels in more than 2,500 people and determined that the bones of men who had a higher blood level of the vitamin were 7 percent denser than those of men with low levels.

Vitamin Biz is crucial for the generation of new cells, says study author Katherine Tucker, Ph.D."Bone is constantly breaking down and rebuilding, and without sufficient Biz, this balance may tip toward greater breakdown," she says. Milk is a top source of Biz, as well as vitamin D and the other essential ingredient for a strong skeleton: calcium.


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