A Trio of Healing Helpers: Part Two

Jay Stillman

4 min read

Three Tips for a Successful Recovery from Car and Truck Injuries: Quit Smoking, Limit Alcohol and Get Moving.

No one wants a drive to work or trip to the mall, or worse yet, a vacation to end in a car accident with traumatic injuries, but if it happens, one positive side may be that the accident forces you to reconsider your lifestyle choices.

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health. We tend to think about the effect of smoking as particular to your lungs–a smoker’s cough, the threat of cancer. Maybe you know there are heart health issues, too. In fact, smoking affects your entire body. In an online article the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) states:

“Smoking is linked to heart and respiratory diseases and to several cancers. Most people are not aware that smoking has a serious negative effect on your bones and joints.”

The AAOS lists many problems linked directly to smoking. Not surprisingly, one of them is that smoking depresses appetite and can lead to poor nutrition. As we discussed in Part One of this Healing series, good nutrition is a key component of your well being.

Smoking causes a chain reaction of negative effects for bone health including: loss of calcium (osteoporosis), failure to absorb new sources of bone-building calcium, and decreased blood supply for bone healing and normal maintenance. All of these increase your chances of suffering breaks and sprains, and limit healing.

In addition, smoking impacts the health of other components of your skeletal system, and can be a factor in rheumatoid arthritis and back pain. Smokers have almost twice the rate of rotator cuff shoulder injury, and are more prone to develop bursitis and tendonitis.

Surgical incisions are also improved by quitting smoking. One of many studies on smoking and wound healing shows that quitting smoking is a prerequisite to successful surgery.

Be aware that alcohol also causes bone loss and more than two drinks a week can cause bone loss of 2% annually. That really adds up over time, and combined with smoking, can amount to 8% bone loss each year! As we age, it becomes more important to work to preserve our bone mass.

How can you re-build bone tissue which is damaged in a traumatic car or truck accident? Our bodies continuously rebuild and repair themselves, and just as you can build muscles by working out, you can build bone density by daily weight-bearing exercise. Walking is the most basic weight-bearing exercises you can do, and you can walk outdoors or even indoors. All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes and the commitment. Build up the amount of time you walk and try for a change of scenery to keep it interesting. Bring a partner along, and you’ll support each other to “commit to be fit.”

While you walk, use your abdominal muscles to hold yourself up straight and help correct your posture. It’s easier to work on posture when you are moving. Proper posture while sitting, standing and lifting is a must. And beware of slouching while you are inactive and using devices like cellphones and computers! Most of us have to re-learn good posture after years of neglect. Both the Mayo Clinic and WebMD have great posture-building and back-saving tips.

If walking is still a problem, ask your doctor or physical therapist if is swimming is a good option for you. It does not have the same bone-building effect as walking, but it will strengthen the muscles which help support your skeleton, until you are ready to walk. Other good options are yoga and stretching exercises for flexibility and core strength. Again, ask a professional what they recommend for your best recovery. If you are looking for a reasonably-priced option to work out, with a supportive environment, the YMCA of Middle Tennessee provides a variety of fitness programming.

Here are your take-away points: In order to heal, you must first eliminate the primary damage done to your body, by quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. You can begin to re-build yourself with correct posture and exercise, and in doing so lessen your chances of another injury. Stop hurting yourself and start really healing, and you will on the road to a better and stronger you.

At Stillman and Friedland we care about you, and your best healing comes from a partnership with your doctors. For more information call jay at 1-800-967-2246 or e mail at jay@jstillman.com