A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the bone. Athletes, particularly long-distance runners, are more likely to suffer from this type of injury. There are several places in the lower body where stress injuries can occur.
Stress fractures don’t cause acute pain, but you may notice slight discomfort that only occurs under stress. With prolonged stress, the pain can worsen and range from stabbing to dull. Reducing your activity level to prevent further injury is the most common treatment for stress fractures.
You can trust our board-certified doctors at the Orthopaedic Institute of Henderson to help you get better quickly when you have a broken bone. We provide the fracture care you need, from immediate attention to ensure your bones heal normally to physical therapy, rehabilitation, and education.
Our goal is to help you heal and make sure you don’t suffer more stress fractures down the road.
What is a stress fracture?
When you overuse your muscles, usually because of overtraining, they can’t absorb shock as they usually would. These fractures are microscopic cracks in your bones that develop over time because of the additional stress placed on your bones.
Unlike other broken bones, stress fractures last longer and aren’t the result of a traumatic event. Due to the constant overloading of specific bones and joints — for example, through certain sports such as long-distance running — the bone becomes more and more damaged until it finally breaks.
Such stress fractures occur primarily in bones that carry a significant amount of your body weight, like your legs and feet.
Can stress fractures occur anywhere?
You can experience a stress injury in your foot, heel, lower back, or shinbone. In principle, a stress fracture can occur anywhere you place high mechanical stress on the bone.
Stress fractures occur most frequently in the foot and leg area, often in running or athletics, but sports with jumping, such as volleyball or basketball, can also cause stress fractures.
What’s the treatment for a stress fracture?
We first recommend a break from the activity that triggered the stress fracture because you need to immobilize the bone. Other types of movement are permitted in gentle sports, such as cycling, swimming, or aqua aerobics, if you’re not experiencing pain.
You can practice strength training and stretching exercises as long as they don’t stress the bone.
Resuming activity too soon can easily lead to a return of the injury, delaying the healing process. Ambitious athletes often ignore mild pain and want to resume their former activity level as quickly as possible, which can become a problem in the healing phase of a stress fracture.
How can I prevent a stress fracture?
Slowly making changes can help you prevent a stress fracture. Here’s what you can do:
- Avoid increased activity
- Use appropriate footwear
- Cross-train by adding low-impact activities
- Get proper nutrition
At the Orthopaedic Institute of Henderson, we provide education in fracture prevention. We also help you adjust and improve your bone density through dietary and activity modifications.
Call our Henderson, Nevada, office today or request an appointment online for comprehensive stress fracture prevention and care.