13 Nov Everything You Need To Know About Stress Fractures
Fractures and broken bones are injuries you might associate with high impact sports like football or ice hockey and less so with something like running. However, repetitively straining the same bones over and over and over again can induce fractures. Stress fractures are a common injury in runners and their management is often contentious.
What is a stress fracture?
Fractures and broken bones are confusing terms, so what exactly is a fracture anyway? A fracture refers to a broken bone. A complete fracture would be one in which the bone has been completely divided into two or more pieces whilst an incomplete or partial fracture is one in which there is a break in the bone that does not go all way through.
So how does one get a stress fracture? A stress fracture occurs when the bone is broken not from one hard and powerful insult (eg a broken clavicle from a tackle in football) but from repeated compressive stressors. None of these on their own would make the bone break but together they can result in small breaks in the bone. This is why sports like running are a significant risk factor for stress fractures.
How do I fix a stress fracture?
Treating a stress fracture aggressively is essential. If you’ve picked the injury up after pounding the pavements too much then that means taking a big step back from the sport. You need to get in contact with a specialist in foot and ankle injuries as soon as is reasonably possible. They will offer you a whole host of treatments, some of which may include:
- Sometimes rest and recuperation – or “conservative” management will be enough to treat the fracture. However, knowing which fractures need more aggressive treatment is the job of experts and that’s why it’s so imperative to get in contact with a specialist.
- Usually, doctors will tell you to ice the area every day to reduce the swelling and the pain.
- You may be offered pain medications like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Thes help to reduce inflammatory molecules that increased the likelihood nerves send pain signals to your brain. Less inflammation less pain!
- Reduce your activity! If you are running 50 miles per week this is going to need to come down to almost nothing whilst you give the fracture time to heal.
- Immobilization with a cast or boot may be used in more severe fractures
- Some patients may be asked to become non-weight bearing. This means walking around in crutches and not putting any weight on the fracture site (luckily this is rarely the best way to manage the fractures in most people)
If you or somebody you know is suffering from foot pain it may be the start of a serious stress fracture injury. Get in contact with a specialist foot and ankle clinic that can get you back to 100% as fast as possible.