Fracture healing tips for JaVale McGee, other NBA stars and you

Dear Mr. McGee,

I’m a bit of a basketball fan, and even though I must confess I most enjoy watching the often thrilling (and often top ranking) Syracuse University team, I’m following the news of your fractured leg and that you’re out the remainder of the season.

I spend my days counseling people about bone health and keeping up with the activities they love. And while most of them don’t make it into the NBA Playoffs or have a reality show with their former WNBA star mother, they are just as anxious to recover as you are. In fact, many of them are looking for ways to speed their fracture healing and so I thought you might be interested in the advice I give them.

Tips to heal your fracture more quickly

1. Take a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral supplement. By weight, bone is roughly 70% mineral content and healing any fracture requires extra minerals be available to do the repair work at the fracture site. Many of us just don’t get enough of the needed vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. I tell my clients to consume at least two cups of fresh vegetables for lunch and dinner.  High antioxidant intake is particularly important for fracture healing. With fracture a great deal of oxidative damage occurs, and nutrient antioxidants help prevent excessive bone breakdown from inflammation.

2. Think super nutrition. With a fracture, your body needs to gather your protein building-blocks to synthesize new structural bone protein matrix. Adding even modest amounts of extra protein to the diet can help reduce complications, shorten the healing phase, and minimize further bone loss in the area as the fracture heals — by as much as half. Adding more calories is a good idea too, as fracture healing requires a lot of energy. For example, an active adult may require 2,500 calories a day, but a bedridden, injured patient with multiple fractures may demand 6,000 calories per day for proper healing.

3. Block pain without aspirin and ibuprofen. These two anti-inflammatory drugs can actually slow down fracture healing as they work to block pain. That’s because inflammation plays a key role in the cleaning and re-building process of healing a fracture. Ibuprofen and aspirin inhibit this necessary inflammation and therefore delay healing. A better choice for pain relief would be acetaminophen, or better yet, give natural supplements a try — such as vitamin C, quercetin, and omega-3 fatty acids.

For many of my patients, I also recommend mild exercise. I’m pretty sure you’ve got this one covered! As you can see, you really can take a much more active role in your healing than you may have realized.

Best wishes for your own good health (including a quick recovery),

Susan E. Brown, PhD