Orthopaedists may recommend vitamin D supplements during wrist fracture recovery

March 1, 2013

Topic: orthopaedic fracture

Orthopaedists may recommend vitamin D supplements during wrist fracture recovery

The body needs adequate levels of vitamin D in order to function properly. Now, a new study published in the Journal of Hand Surgery reveals that this essential nutrient may help women recover their grip strength after undergoing surgery for an orthopaedic fracture of the wrist.

The radius is the most commonly broken bone in the arm, and distal radius fractures are very common, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This injury tends to occur when a person falls and tries to catch themselves on their outstretched hands. Symptoms of the break include immediate pain, tenderness, bruising and swelling.

Researchers from Seoul National University in Korea looked at 70 women who were at least 50 years old and had endured a distal radius fracture. They analyzed the subjects' grip strength recovery and measured their vitamin D levels.

The study's investigators discovered that taking vitamin D supplements may help people recover their grip strength. Other variables that can improve outcome include young age and increased wrist range of motion six months after the injury.

"This study demonstrated that in women with a distal radius fracture, baseline vitamin D level is not associated with grip strength recovery in the injured hand," the researchers wrote. "However, baseline vitamin D level correlated with grip strength in the uninjured hand."

Why getting vitamin D is important
The reason why supplements are a good way for people to get adequate levels of vitamin D is because the nutrient is not naturally present in very many foods. It is most commonly obtained through sun exposure, which triggers the body's production of it.

Although it is hard to get, it is important for people to consume enough vitamin D on a regular basis, as it plays an important role in the healing process of the skeletal system. According to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements, the nutrient is essential for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts. A deficiency can result in thin, brittle bones that having a high likelihood of breaking.

Since vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains levels of serum calcium and phosphate concentrations in bones, low levels of the nutrient can increase a person's chances of developing osteoporosis. Orthopaedists can recommend vitamin D supplements to keep their patients' bones strong. 

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