Monthly Archives: August 2013

Five Myths About Broken Bones and Fractures

I have a fracture and I’m not happy about it. I’m making the best of it, but will not be content until it’s healed and I’m back to being 100% mobile. I always consider a health challenge to be learning experience. This fracture is no exception. This incident forced me to learn a thing or two about fractures that I thought might be helpful to share. I will be sharing a series of articles on fractures, sprains and strains. This post covers several myths that exist about broken bones.  To learn what I did to get back on my foot in less than three weeks, read From a Broken Foot to Dancing in Heels.

The bottom line is that if you experience trauma that results in pain, swelling, bruising (either immediately or after time passes) or which impedes your ability to move or use a limb the way you usually do, please see your doctor and get an X-ray. If you have access to an orthopedic hospital with a walk-in clinic, go there. Walk-in orthopedic clinics are wonderful because they will take an X-ray, diagnose and treat you far more quickly than an emergency room will. When I broke my ankle 25 years ago, I went to an emergency room. It was the weekend, so the staff X-rayed my ankle, told me it was broken, and sent me home with pain killers and a splint until I could get in to see an orthopedic doctor. By the time I saw the doctor on Monday, I was in agony and the ankle had swollen beyond recognition. It wasn’t pretty. When I broke my foot this week, I went to an orthopedic clinic . I checked in and was X-rayed, diagnosed and treated in less than 90 minutes. Orthopedic immediate care clinics are springing up across the US. I highly recommend making them your first stop for any orthopedic injury.

Following are five myths about fractures I think it’s time to bust:

Myth #1:  A fracture is a milder injury than a broken bone

False. Fractures and broken bones are the same thing. Fractures have different medical classifications, but fractures and broken bones are the exact same thing.Foot X-Ray Showing Fractures

Myth #2:  If I still have full range of motion, it can’t be a fracture

False. The fact the bone is broken does not always mean the muscles and tendons cannot move the joint the way it is supposed to. Whether or not the limb has full range of motion is dependent on whether or not the bone(s) on either side of the break are in alignment. This is especially true if the fracture did not break the bone into two distinct pieces.

Myth #3:  Fractures always bruise

False. Although fractures do typically bruise, it may take 12-48 hours before the bruising appears. If a traumatic injury produces pain and swelling, do not assume it is not broken simply because there is no bruising. It took over 24 hours for bruising to appear after I broke my foot. I was trained that fractures always produce bruising. This was wrong.

Myth #4:  Fractures are so painful I will immediately know if I break a bone

False. Ligament sprains and muscle strains are also very painful, sometimes more painful than fractures. Additionally, every person has a different pain tolerance. People with a high pain tolerance may continue using the limb with a broken bone in spite of the pain. Case in point: When I broke my foot, I walked around for over 24 hours before deciding I needed to get it X-rayed. Yes, it hurt, and yes, I knew better. My common sense lost out to my stubborn refusal to accept I had a broken bone. (There’s another lesson there somewhere.)

Myth #5:  It’s easy to tell a bone is broken because the person will have “pin point” pain over the break

False. It is very difficult to break a bone without also spraining ligaments and straining muscles. Because of that, the pain may surround the break and extend far beyond the location of the fracture. The pain will be most intense directly over the break, but the pain may be so intense it is difficult to tell exactly what hurts and where the pain originates.

Again … if you experience trauma that causes ongoing pain, swelling and bruising, please have the injury checked by a medical professional.

Have you ever broken a bone and not realized it? Please share your story!


Photograph courtesy of Richard Yuan Photography.

Must-Have Travel Gadgets for Health Nuts

My husband and I love to travel. There are admittedly times that being away from our home turf makes it challenging to maintain optimum levels of health, Suitcasefitness and peace. We’ve found a few must-have travel gadgets that keep us in peak condition even when we’re cutting loose on vacation. It is possible to maintain strict standards while traveling, but it requires a bit of discipline and commitment. My encouragement is to make good choices while traveling, but to give yourself permission to stray a bit from your daily norms. Most importantly, recognize that the purpose of a vacation is to have fun, Don’t let guilt become a part of your trip.

Following are my favorite must-have travel gadgets for health nuts. I’ve  included links to each one and broken them into three primary categories. These are products I personally recommend. No one asked me to write this post, nor did I receive any of these products for free.

Water Purifiers

Of all the travel gadgets we’ve tried, water purifiers seem to be the most important. We use a Berkey filtration system at home, so achieving that level of purity in the water we drink on vacation can be a challenge.  We’ve tried buying distilled water throughout our trip, but it’s sometimes nice to not have to lug so much weight around. We like the following water purification travel gadgets:

Berkey Travel Filter and Water Bottle: The Go Berkey Travel Kit is a great set for water purification during travel, camping or emergency needs. It’s a bit pricey at $150.o0, but the quality cannot be matched by any other portable purification systems.  The kit comes with a small water filter which removes impurities and chemicals without removing healthy minerals, and a travel water bottle that also provides filtration and purifies water. Both can be used with potable or non-potable water (such as that found in lakes and streams), and both provide the highest level of purification I’ve found. If you just want the water bottle, you can find it here: Sport Berkey Portable Water Purifier.

SteriPen Water Purifier: The SteriPen is a must-have for anyone traveling internationally. It is a tiny device that uses UV light to sanitize water. They make a version that is powered by 4 AA batteries, but also make the SteriPen Freedom version that can be charged from any USB device. The unit is designed to easily fit into a water bottle. The company claims the unit can sterilize 16 ounces of water in 48 seconds. Not bad! As someone who has met Montezuma in person, I highly recommend purchasing this item if you are going to travel abroad. The company also sells a version, the SteriPen Travel, that contains a pre-filter that can be used to filter out any sediment in the water. The added filter makes the SteriPen ideal for emergency situations and primitive camping.

Travel Gadgets for Fitness

Devoted fitness nuts often wish they had better ways to workout when they travel. My encouragement is to recognize you’re probably walking and moving more than you do at home, so it’s ok to take a break and truly relax! For those who wish to sneak a workout into the vacation frenzy, I recommend the following:

Wicking Headband with Earphones: I confess I love this item. It combines a comfortable, wicking headband with a set of built-in speakers. Brilliant! SporTek Headband with Earphones
The headband is perfect for working out, but is also wonderful for listening to music or binaural recordings while you sleep. The speakers are wide enough to provide good sound, and are removable so the headband can be washed.

Cordless Jump Rope:  Yes, you read that right. This is a digital set of jump rope handles with a weight at the end so you can jump rope without tripping over the cord. You could probably achieve the same results by standing in your hotel room and jumping up and down, but this travel gadget makes it much more official! An added benefit is that a digital display in one handle tracks calories burned (based on the user’s height and weight), number of jumps jumped and time spent exercising. The set is tiny enough you could carry it anywhere and start jumping anytime you have time to kill. If you prefer a more structured workout, the Jump Snap set provides a cordless jump rope, four DVD workouts and a set of hand weights.

Banglz Wrist Weights: These weights provide a simple way to “sneak” an arm workout in as you go about daily tasks. The low weight – a half pound – makes it possible to wear them all day without becoming overly fatigued. Why use these? The additional weight will gently build muscles and provide a simple workout without needing to change your schedule to fit in a workout. They are hidden in an attractive, washable cloth covering so they don’t look overly unusual.

Travel Gadgets for General Comfort

Water-Powered Alarm ClockThis travel gadget is not only practical, it’s fun! The alarm clock runs on water, so you never need to worry Water-Powered Alarm Clock Travel Gadgetabout
missing a flight due to a power outage. It is tiny enough to fit in any bag, and can quickly be set up once you arrive. Best of all, you never need to buy batteries! Note that the time it takes for the clock to begin working after being filled is dependent upon the mineral content of the water you fill it with. When filled with water with low levels of minerals, it may take up to three hours for the clock to start. Water with average mineral content will start the clock almost immediately. You can add a few drops of trace minerals to the water to speed the start time.

Herban Essentials Towelettes: These towelettes are pre-made with pure essential oils. They come in your choice of lemon, lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus. They provide an easy way to clean up and disinfect without having to make your own product or carry a large container. Perfect!

Acupressure Mat and Pillow:  This product is wonderful for relaxing and easing aches and pains after a long day of travel or play. It is very soft to lie on, but has tiny “bumps” that stimulate acupressure points known to encourage the body to heal and relax. It’s tiny enough to easily fit into a suitcase or carry-on. For best results, put it under the covers and sleep on it!

What’s your favorite travel aid? Please share!