Former chief minister of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav fractured his shoulder and injured his back after falling down from stairs at wife Rabri Devi’s house. Quoting a close aid, PTI reported that the “tests showed a fracture in his shoulder. A crepe bandage was tied around the affected area and he was allowed to return home with a prescription of medicines.”

PTI also added that the RJD supremo has taken ill and was admitted to a private hospital in Patna, less than 24 hours after the fall.

Here’s what to keep in mind after a fracture

According to PennMedicine.org, a fracture of any of the bones in the shoulder can greatly impair one’s mobility and cause severe pain. Shoulder fractures occur as a result of trauma or injury to the shoulder from a fall, sports injury, car accident, or any direct blow to the shoulder.

Fracture post fall can range from a minor injury to a potentially life long incapacitating situation. While all injuries are not same and some major injuries require immediate medical condition, some cardinal principles can help mitigate the damage and fast track the recovery period, said Dr Vaibhav Bagaria, director, orthopedics, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital Mumbai.

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Most shoulder fractures heal in about six weeks, notes clevelandclinic.org. Dr Ankit Batra, orthopaedic surgeon, Sharda Hospital, Greater Noida said that a minor fracture or a hairline fracture can take anywhere between 1-2 months, or a minimum of three weeks while a major fracture is always case-specific.

Symptoms of a fracture

Shoulder pain, swelling, tenderness, deformity or “bump” at the site of the fracture, discoloration around the upper arm, and inability to normally move the arm without pain are some of the symptoms.

Treatment and recovery 

According to Dr Fahad Shaikh, orthopedic surgeon, Masina Hospital, fracture healing is a race between “bony union and implant give-away”. “Hence it is of utmost importance not to stress the fracture without an orthopaedician’s supervision,” he said.

It is important to quickly ice the area when in a home setting, advised Dr Richa Kulkarni, sports physiotherapist. According to her, it is imperative to work on the range of motion as advised by the treating physiotherapist — this applies to both conservative treatment and post-operative treatment. “Once the person is responding to the simple stretches, strengthening exercises are recommended,” Dr Kulkarni said.

Dr Batra asserted that one shouldn’t move the affected person without support. Call the ambulance and take the person to the emergency with the help of a spine board. “Any fractures are treated on the basis of three principles – reduction or the setting the normal position of the limb; immobilisation or keeping the affected part in a plaster or splint; and retention where the concerned orthopaedic checks if the  reduction is in place,” he described.

Dos and Don’ts

Follow these dos and don’ts, recommended by Dr Akhilesh Yadav, associate director – Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement, Max Hospital Vaishali.

Dos

Keep the casted part elevated

The cast restricts movement, which helps to stabilise your bone, but it may also tighten if the injury swells. Additionally, when the arm or leg swells inside the cast, it hurts excruciatingly. To reduce this risk, elevate yourself while sitting or sleeping or use a pillow.

Keep your cast dry

Casts must constantly remain dry to avoid causing skin rashes or infections. Fiberglass casts lose their effectiveness when exposed to water, which also causes plastic casts to break down.

Keep your fingers and toes moving

Keep your fingers and toes moving while you’re sleeping to prevent them from going numb and losing feeling.
To avoid stiffness and blood circulation issues, keep all of your other joints moving aside from the injured portions. There are more reasons why joints can swell.

Don’ts

Fever shouldn’t be simply ignored

A fracture can also raise fever. It’s time to seek medical help if you still have a fever despite not experiencing any other illness-related symptoms.

Never attempt to take off or adjust your cast on your own

To ensure that the damage heals completely, your doctor will advise you to wear the cast for a predetermined period of time. Therefore, regardless of how inconvenient you may feel, you’re not supposed to take it off early.

Don’t touch the fractured portion

If the bone swells up, resist the urge to force it back or realign it. Applying a splint above and below the fractured bone will temporarily immobilise it if immediate medical assistance is not available. The splints can be made more comfortable by padding.

While most fractures do heal their own with rest, ice, compression and elevation, some of them require surgical intervention. It is important to trust your doctor and follow appropriate medical advice on complex fractures, said Dr Bagaria.

How to prevent falls during monsoon?

Here are some tips from Dr Rahul Modi, sports injury and knee arthroscopy consultant, House of Doctors.

*Use handrails when walking on stairs at home or otherwise. Installing handrails is needed when there are elderly people at home.
*Ensure well-lit pathways or carry a flashlight while going to dark places.
*Wear comfortable, slip-resistant shoes on uneven and wet surfaces. Wrong footwear can cause injuries. Wearing heels or leather shoes is a strict no-no.
*Avoid using a cell phone while you walk as you can fall.
*Try to use walkways and pedestrian paths.
*Wipe your feet on a mat once you enter a building during monsoon.
*Keep your wet clothes and umbrella away from the walkways at home as you can slip or fall from the water coming out from them.

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