In simple terms, stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bones. These tiny cracks are caused due to repetitive pressure or force like running a marathon or having an interest in doing sports activities that involve jumping too often and too much. These fractures can also develop from a normal weakening of the bones due to certain bone conditions like osteoporosis or osteoarthritis.
Stress fractures are common in people who bear too much weight on the bones of the lower leg and foot.
At first, you might barely notice the pain associated with a stress fracture, but it tends to worsen with time. The tenderness usually starts at a specific spot and decreases when the affected area is rested.
Stress fractures are often caused due to the increased intensity of any activity way too quickly.
Below are some of the most common causes of stress fractures:
- Sports like basketball, dance, gymnastics, and tennis
- Women who have abnormal periods or have reached menopause
- Previous stress fractures
- People with flat feet or rigid arches are prone to stress fractures
- Eating disorders like lack of nutrition make the bones weak
The doctor may suggest undergoing certain tests to check if you have a stress fracture and to examine the severity of the fracture. Tests may include:
- Physical/clinical examination- Visit with a medical history and inform the doctor of any activities or medications you are involved in
- X-rays- It might be difficult to access the severity of the bones but if the fracture has started to heal it may help the doctor to provide clarity
- Bone scan- It helps to see stress fractures that could have not been seen clearly in an X-ray
To treat stress fractures, the first thing to do is rest as the less strain you put on the affected bone the less time it will take to heal. Doctors might suggest you wear a walking boot or use crutches to relieve pain and stress. Although surgery is not something that is required in the treatment of stress fractures, it might be needed in case the area affected has a poor blood supply.
The bones take time to heal so be patient and make relevant changes in your lifestyle to help speed up the recovery process.
- Rest as much as you can
- Ice it up to reduce swelling and relieve pain
- Resume back to work slowly