What is a Stress Fracture?
A stress fracture can refer to small cracks or bruising that develops on a bone, mostly commonly due to overuse of repeated activity. These injuries are incredibly common with over 200,000 new patient cases annually occurring in the United States alone.
Typically, runners or athletes who participate in competitive sports are victim to stress fractures. Contrary to popular misconception, most of these small fractures develop when people change their normal activity: those who change the intensity of their workout or jog on different surfaces can easily damage the delicate bones in their feet.
What are the signs of a Stress Fracture?
There are several signs that implicate a stress fracture has occurred. Usually, primary care physicians ask questions about the quality of the pain from the injury before performing other tests.
Stress fracture pain usually diminishes completely during rest, intensifies during normal activity, and swells at the site of the injury. If the pain hasn’t gone away after two weeks and is getting worse over time, this could also implicate damage to the bone.
If, prior to the injury, the type and intensity of daily workout has changed, it is more likely that a stress fracture has occurred. Many doctors will also have patients with foot pain perform a single leg hopping test; if the patient’s pain is highly intensified due to increased force on the injury, this could also be a sign.
How Can you Treat a Stress Fracture?
Instead of resorting to risky exploratory surgeries, many have opted for the option of undergoing physical therapy. Over time, physical therapy can improve muscle flexibility and build up the bone for strength.
It’s been demonstrated that strong muscles and bones help to absorb the stress of high impact injuries, which can diminish the injury over time and prevent new stress fractures from occurring.