Stress fractures are generally caused by repetitive actions or overuse, which results in a serious bruise or crack in a bone. This most often occurs in the feet or lower legs during activities such as running, jumping, or walking.
Drastically changing the intensity, frequency, or duration of activity like when undertaking a new form of exercise or performing it more vigorously can put those who participate in them at risk. Additionally, those who are suddenly in an active job for full work days may be prone to these injuries due to the absorption of repetitive force on these bones.
Uneven surfaces, unstable shoes, or anything that changes the way a foot hits the ground can cause a vulnerability for a stress fracture. In addition, conditions including osteoporosis can weaken bones creating further chances for this condition. To help prevent this, build bone strength by consuming a balanced diet with adequate amounts of vitamin D and calcium.
Ensure shoes provide proper stability and shock absorption, and replace them as needed. Ease into new activities gradually, and vary exercise through cross training, mixing strength training and low impact exercise with higher impact sports. If pain or swelling occurs, rest until it subsides, and see a doctor if it persists. When recovery periods are too short, healing can delayed or improper, and refracture or a complete fracture can occur.
Treating a stress fracture properly can facilitate healing, prevent further bone damage, and relieve pain. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation (RICE) is recommended. An orthopedic doctor can determine the existence of a stress fracture in an examination with x-rays or a CT scan, and can confirm when it has healed.
Depending on the severity of the fracture, a doctor may advise keeping weight off the injured area through the use of crutches, immobilization in a boot or cast, or in some instances surgery. A stress fracture will generally require six to eight weeks to heal when recommendations are followed.
If you are experiencing pain from a possible stress fracture, please call or visit Spine & Orthopedic Center today. Our doctors can help you determine the cause of your pain, and advise you on an appropriate treatment plan to put you on the road to recovery.