Ayurvedic treatment for Fractures

Fractures

Know More on Bone Diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Fractures Ayurvedic treatment

Fracture means a break in the continuity of a bone. This can happen as a result of a severe trauma or due to a secondary underlying condition. Fractures are of two types1:

  • Open fracture – when bone is broken in such a way that it sticks out through the skin
  • Closed fracture – a break or crack in the bone that does not cut into the skin

In Ayurvedic texts, fractures have been explained as Khanda Bhagna / Asthi Bhagna (Fracture of Bones). These fractures can be caused due to various injuries including slip/fall from a height, pressure on joints, pulling with force,excessive movements, ferocious animal bites, striking, etc. Fractures can be of two types2:

  • Sandhimukta - that is dislocation 
  • Kanda-bhagna - that is body fracture

Causes

Fractures

Generally fractures occur due to a trauma such as an accident, falls, injuries or violence. In many cases, especially women and elderly, a low bone density or osteoporosis may be the reason for fractures.1

Rarely, due to heavy use – as seen in athletes - there may be small cracks called as stress fractures in the bone.1

Symptoms

Fractures

Fractures are a medical emergency. They need immediate medical attention. If not visible immediately, following symptoms should cause a suspicion of a fracture1:

  • Severe pain in the affected part
  • Any visible deformity (crooked limb/bone protrusion)
  • Lots of swelling and bruise near the injury
  • Immobility of the affected part/limb

Diagnosis

Fractures

Your doctor will usually recognize your fracture by doing a physical examination, followed by a confirmatory X-ray scan.

Sometimes when an X-ray scan fails to detect a fracture, which is quite common with wrist fractures, hip fractures and stress fractures, your doctor may recommend some other tests such as:3

  • CT scan – imaging test that uses x-rays to take multiple images of the bone to detect broken bones and other damage
  • MRI scan - common imaging technique that takes multiple images of the soft tissues around your dislocated joint to find out how bad the injury is
  • Bone scan – uses small amount of radioactive dye to reveal problems with bones and bone metabolism

These tests also help you doctor if the tissues surrounding your bones have been damaged.3

Management

Fractures

Management of fractures has one basic rule which is to put the broken pieces back into the position and prevent the bone from moving out of place until it is completely healed. When the bone is broken, the ends heal back together by ‘knitting’ of their ends with new bones which are formed at the edge of the broken bones. Depending on how severe your bone condition is and how your injury has occurred, your doctor may recommend a few treatment options, which include4:

  • Cast immobilization – process of holding your bone in place using a cast that is made of plaster or fiberglass. Based on your injury, your doctor will decide how long the immobilization stays on you
  • Functional cast/brace – In some fractures, the movement of nearby joints needs to be properly controlled. A cast/brace helps limit the movement
  • Traction – Gentle, steady pulling action to align the bones
  • External fixation – Metal pins and screws connected to a metal bar are placed into the bone, above and below the fracture site. This helps to hold the bones in proper position while they heal
  • Internal fixation – Once bone pieces are re-positioned to their original alignment, special screws connected to a metal plate are attached to the surface of the bone

Ayurveda also believes in manual manipulation to adjust bones to their proper positions and then apply bandages in some form to mobilize them.5

 

Additionally, Ayurveda also recommends a combination of healthy diet (ahar) and lifestyle changes (vihar) in order to manage the condition effectively. These include:5

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Consume diet rich in Calcium and Vitamin C for early recovery
  • Should be provided with foods that do not cause heartburn and food prepared from flour grains.
  • Increase protein intake in your diet with foods such as milk, eggs, chicken soup, fish, lentils, curd, paneer, etc to help retain muscle and cause early bone recovery
  • Increase intake of vata-decreasing foods such as
    • Rice
    • Ghee
    • Boiled milk
  • Good herbs for you (to be eaten with ghee or used as an external plaster): Manjishtha, red sandalwood, shatavari, flaxseed etc
  • Avoid certain foods in your diet, such as
    • Carbonated drinks
    • Packaged foods
    • Junk food
    • Salt
    • Spicy foods
    • Acidic, pungent and alkaline foods
    • Oily foods

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Take adequate rest to ensure quick healing of bones
  • For bandaging and washing, use tree bard of herbs of nyagrodhadi group. Avoid putting pressure on the injured part

Do regular cold washes, apply plasters and do gentle oil massages

FAQS

Fractures
  1. What is Osteoarthritis? How is it caused?

Osteoarthritis refers to a type of bone and joint problem in which a person suffering from it will have pains in joints. This happens due to the wearing down of the protective cartilage on the bones due to age or other factors. While any joint in the body can have osteoarthritis, usually it happens commonly in the joints of knees, hips, spinal column and hands.

Osteoarthritis is caused due to damage of the cartilages of the ends of the bones. This damage generally occurs due to multiple factors primarily being increasing age. Apart for age, the other factors that cause the damage to cartilage are Obesity, female gender and trauma to the joint.

  1. What is Rheumatoid arthritis? How is it different from osteoarthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) refers to an auto immune disorder where the body’s defense systems turn against the body and mainly affect the joints but may also severely affect the eyes, skin, lungs, heart and blood vessels. It generally manifests as pain in the joints along with swelling and difficulty in movements.

Unlike osteoarthritis which affects the weight bearing joints, RA affects any and most joints of the body. It generally presents with swelling (hot swollen joints) as a cardinal feature and also shows some systemic manifestations (such as affects the eyes, skin, lungs, heart etc) unlike OA.

  1. What is osteoporosis? How is it recognized?

Osteoporosis refers to the condition where the bone becomes weak. Instead of the strong tissue that support the body structure, bones become brittle from inside and are capable of breaking with a minor jerk or fall. This leads to fractures in the hands, hips and legs with minor falls or injuries.

It can be recognized based on specific signs and symptoms and a BMD test. Symptoms are as follows -

  • Easily having a bone fracture
  • Pain in the back
  • Height becomes lesser than usual
  • A dropping posture
  1. What first aid should I offer to a person with a fracture?

If you witness a person developing fracture, take these actions immediately -

  • Urgently call for medical help or arrange for an ambulance
  • Stop any bleeding if there is an open wound. This can be done by applying pressure with a clean cloth or tight bandaging.
  • Avoid moving the injured area.
  • Apply ice packs to the injured part
  • If the person faints of is short of breath, put their head at a lower side and legs at a higher angle
  1. How does one know if a child has rickets?

The signs and symptoms of rickets are as follows –

  • Crooked or bow shaped legs
  • Thick joints of hands and feet
  • Protruded chest bone
  • A delay in growth milestones
  • Muscular weakness
  1. How does one have a dislocated joint?

Dislocations are usually caused due to a trauma or as a sports injury. Falls associated with contact sports such as football, basketball etc can lead to a dislocation.

Additionally, a fall on the outstretched hand and trauma due to a motor accident, too can cause dislocation.

  1. What is a Tennis elbow? How is it caused?

Tennis elbow refers to the pain in elbow due to swelling of the tendons which may occur due to repetitive movements of the wrists. Unlike the name suggests, the condition affects non-athletes as well.

It is caused due to overuse of the tendons resulting in a muscle strain injury. Any activity that requires repeated motions of the elbow and wrists can cause tiny injuries in the tendons leading to tennis elbow.

  1. What is frozen shoulder and how is it caused?

Frozen shoulder refers to a condition where the shoulder seems to be frozen in its movements. This condition cause pain and stiffness in the shoulder and restricts any kinds of movements. Medically, this condition in also known as adhesive capsulitis.

While the exact cause of frozen shoulder is not understood, it is believed to be caused due to a swelling of the joints covering called as capsule. This may happen due to long periods of immobility or trauma to the underlying nerve.

  1. How does a hip get fractured?

Generally hip fractures can be caused because of a trauma due to accident, falls, injuries or rarely violence. Hip fracture is very common in the elderly as it often happens due to a fall from height or sometimes even with twisting of the foot in people with weak bones. Younger people often have hip fracture as an outcome of a motor vehicle accident.

  1. What is meant by slipped disc?

A slipped disc refers to the swelling in the cushion between two bones, most commonly the vertebra (individual bones of the spine). This cushion is supposed to provide mobility and flexibility to the spine. This cushion between the vertebra is called as a disc and is filed with a gel like substance that provides the flexibility.

Slipped disc is the swelling of this disc which causes pain and obstructs mobility of the spine. A swelling in the cushion leads to some of the gel in the disc to protrude out between the bones.

References

Fractures
  1. Medline plus. Fractures. Available at https://medlineplus.gov/fractures.html accessed on Sept 17th 2016
  2. Yogitha B et al. Fractures: Ayurvedic and Modern perspectives. IJRAP. 2012; 3(2): 141-49  
  3. Understanding bone fractures – Diagnosis and Treatment. Web MD. Available at http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-fractures-treatment#1 accessed Sept 21st 2016
  4. Fractures (Broken Bones). Ortho info. Available at http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00139  accessed Sept 21st 2016
  5. Swami Sadashiva Tirtha. The Ayurveda Encyclopaedia: Natural secrets to healing, prevention and longetivity. 2005

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