Some universal truths about self-rehab of a broken bone

So, there are some things that I’ve found in rehabilitating and healing from this fractured scaphoid (wrist) bone that I’d like to share because they may not be common knowledge and they need to be.  I hope you find them helpful.

  1. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) impair bone healing.  Yes, you read that right.  I did some research because I am prescribed two different NSAIDs for my osteoarthritis and found that several very reliable studies have shown that NSAIDs like the ones that I was prescribed actually impair bone healing.  This includes ibuprofen, which is the go-to for a lot of people with inflammation (like me).  So, if you want a difficult bone fracture to heal, get off the NSAIDs and stay off of them!  Yes, I’m fully aware that this is going to mean that your entire body is going to suffer excruciating pain.  I’m dealing with that right now.  I do, however, have a healed scaphoid bone, which is nothing short of a miracle without surgery (that coming from a hand surgeon).
  2. Hydrotherapy will stimulate circulation, enhance mobility, ease pain, and prevent swelling while helping you to regain your range of motion.  Fill a tub or a bucket or whatever container you need to fill in order to immerse your healing bone(s) in with warm water.  Immerse the body part in the warm water and gently, but with a little grit, attempt to stretch, move, and regain some mobility in the bone(s) in question.  Do this thoroughly and for at least 10-15 minutes.  After you are finished, gently dry the affected area and apply some non-greasy lotion or pH-neutral organic oil (such as emu oil) to your skin and let it soak in.  Once it has soaked in enough, wipe off your affected parts and reapply any splints, braces, or aids that you may be directed to wear.  You may find that, the moment you take your affected part(s) out of the warm water, you stiffen up again.  This is normal.  If you do encounter inflammation or swelling, have some ice and a towel ready so that you can wrap the ice pack in the towel and apply it to the area.  Don’t put the ice pack in direct contact with the skin.  This is to avoid frostbite.
  3. Ask someone who has been through it before about their rehabilitation!  Don’t reinvent the wheel!  Ask them what worked.  Ask them what didn’t.  Ask them what made it better, what made it worse, and how they remedied any issues they encountered.  Most people will gladly help you get back on your feet if you ask them about their own experiences.  Take all of that with a grain of salt (meaning, don’t do anything that seems sketchy or dangerous), but seek out the wisdom and experience of others.  It’s out there!
  4. Ask your doctor to clarify!  It’s their job to follow-up, and that means telling you how to proceed with rehabilitation!  They may explain some exercises, give you a splint or brace to wear with instructions, or refer you to a physical therapist, but don’t let them just walk out the door without giving you any inkling of what to do next!  That’s just not meeting the standard of care!
  5. Do your exercises!  Every day, several times a day!  Don’t skip them because they’re unpleasant or you don’t feel like doing them or you don’t have time (fill in your excuse).  NO EXCUSES!  This is the only body you get on this earth!  If you want it to work, you have to work at it!

Hopefully these tips help.  Whatever you do, work on that mobility, range of motion, and strength as soon as it is reasonable to do so, because the less atrophy you end up with, the better.  Even though it’s painful, it’ll pay off!

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