Chances are, you’ve heard of a stress fracture, and some of you may have even had one before. When the muscles become tired, typically after overuse, all of that stress that the muscles are experiencing can cause a tiny crack in the bone. Whether you’re an athlete or someone who has recently picked up running, we’ve got everything you need to know about stress fractures below.
How Does It Happen?
Stress fractures take place primarily in the lower leg and foot, and are often caused by increasing the amount or intensity of an activity quickly. They can also occur after normal use of the bone is weakened by a certain condition, such as osteoporosis. When the foot repetitively strikes the ground, it can experience trauma. This can happen to runners who are using shoes that are old or less flexible, and even tennis players who frequently switch the surface they are playing on.
When you have a stress fracture, pain will likely occur with whatever the activity is that you’re participating in, and it will only worsen in time without proper rest. The tenderness usually starts in a specific spot, and some might even experience swelling in the area that is causing pain.
Rest is one of the best ways to recover from an injury. Stress fractures take around six to eight weeks to heal, and it is essential that whatever the activity is that caused you the injury is the one that you’re taking a break from. If proper rest is not taken, larger stress fractures can develop, and they may never be able to heal properly. Shoe inserts and braces could also help the healing process.
Ways to Prevent a Stress Fracture
Take breaks from your usual activity and cross train. If you’re a runner, switch it up with biking or swimming. It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet. Make sure that whatever equipment you’re using, you use it correctly. If the above symptoms occur, stop the activity and rest for a few days.
This article was adapted from OrthoInfo and Mayo Clinic. Read more here and here.
If you have any questions about stress fractures, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.