Whitesburg KY

To Your Good Health

Older bones take longer to heal up



DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 82. I fell off a ladder while painting my shutters. I broke my right leg, the tibia bone. This happened six weeks ago. The doctor just examined me, and I had an X-ray. He said it looks like the bone isn’t healing, and he wants me to return in another month. Aren’t most bones healed in six weeks? What happens if mine doesn’t heal? – L.N.

ANSWER: The tibia is the larger of the two lower-leg bones. You can feel it if your run your hand down the inside part of the leg between the knee and ankle. It’s the shin bone.

Healing time for a broken bone depends on a lot of considerations: the severity of the break; its location in the bone; whether broken bone has pierced the skin; the quality of a person’s circulation; and on and on.

In the best of circumstances, it takes most bones about six weeks to heal. In older people, partly because of inadequate circulation and partly because of diminished bone quality, it takes longer for bones to heal. It can take months and months.

If healing doesn’t take place, orthopedic surgeons have a number of tricks up their sleeves. They can take a piece of good bone from another bone and use it as a bridge between the two nonhealing ends of the broken bone. Or they can joint the two bone ends with metallic hardware.

You’re not far off schedule for healing. It’s not time to lose hope of nature taking its course.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have a large prostate gland, with all the troubles it brings. The doctor put me on Flomax, which worked like a charm but made my nose drip. It wasn’t just a little drip; it was more like Niagara Falls. I stopped and my nose stopped dripping, but my symptoms came back. Is there something else I could take? I don’t want any surgery. – G.L.

ANSWER: You could try Uroxatral. It belongs to the same drug family as Flomax, so it might have the same side effect. The only way to know is to give it a try.

Avodart and Proscar are drugs of a different family that work in a different way. They shrink the gland, but they can take months before you see improvement. They won’t make your nose run.

The booklet on the prostate gland describes gland enlargement and its treatment, as well as gland cancer. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 1001W, Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853- 6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./ $6.75 Canada with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am 14. I have a habit of cracking my knuckles. My teacher says I will get arthritis if I don’t stop. Will I? – K.D.

ANSWER: I wish I could agree with your teacher. Cracking knuckles doesn’t lead to arthritic fingers. It leads to much annoyance. How hard have you tried to break the habit? Try harder. It gets on my nerves, too.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL32853- 6475.

©2007 North America Synd.

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