If you've recently had a fracture, you're probably eager to get back to your life. Osteoporosis doesn't affect how quickly your bones heal. Most fractures are better in 6 to 12 weeks.
Chances are, you'll spend many of those weeks at home. Learning to get around can take time, but you can do some things to get back to your normal activities more quickly and stay healthy while you're at it.
After a fracture, you have to learn how to move again. For example, if you had a spine fracture, you might need to bend and lift differently than you did before. Or if you broke your wrist, you may not be able to get dressed on your own right away.
No matter which bone you broke, it may take longer to do things like wash the dishes or get groceries out of your car. That's OK. Your goal should be to do each thing safely, not quickly.
Ask for Help
It might sound like the opposite of what you should do, but one of the best ways to get back to doing things on your own is to let other people help you. If you push yourself too hard while you're healing, your recovery can take longer. And it can make you more likely to have other problems, like another break.
During the first few weeks at home, you might need help shopping, cooking, cleaning, or getting dressed. You may need someone else to help you do the exercises your doctor or physical therapist recommended, too. Remember that you'll get stronger each day.
If your doctor suggests something to help you, like a cane, walker, or reaching tool, use it. While it might seem that it keeps you from moving the way you want to, it can keep you safe and help you hurt less. And it can make it easier for you to move. That's key: The more active you are, the better it is for your bones and overall health.
Work With a Pro
You probably won't be able to do everything you used to, even if you're not in a cast. Some tasks -- like climbing a step stool or lifting something heavy -- might be too hard for now. That's where health professionals can help.
Your doctor may already have you working with a physical therapist (PT). She can help you learn to move your body safely to ease pain and lower the chances that you'll have another fracture.
A PT can also help you build muscle, which makes you stronger and "pads" your bones to help protect you from new fractures.
You may want to think about working with an occupational therapist (OT), too. An OT helps you make changes to your living or work space and come up with smart ways to do everyday tasks. To find a therapist, visit the website of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Share your goals with your physical and occupational therapists. They should be on the same page about what you'd like to be able to do again. Make sure they're aware of any pain you feel. Bone and tissue pain can be an issue, even after your fracture has healed.
Prevent Future Problems
After you've had a fracture, it's normal to worry about getting another one. But fear can keep you from being active and getting back to your life.
If you're nervous, talk to your health care team about it. And take action. For example, if you're more likely to get a hip fracture, your doctor might recommend that you wear a hip pad. Or if you're worried about breaking another bone, your physical therapist may come up with a strength training plan that helps build muscle and bone mass.
With smart lifestyle changes and careful planning, you can stay healthy and lower your odds of future fractures.
You also may find it helpful to talk to other people who have osteoporosis. They'll understand what you're going through, and you can exchange ideas and tips, too.