Most bone fractures occur due to a traumatic or violent injury. But this is not true of all fractures. In fact, most of us have heard about stress fractures, but they remain a mystery to many. Stress fractures occur slowly, due to repetitive stresses or repeated activities. Stress fractures occur most commonly in sports and are associated with repeated impacts like running and jumping.
Most of these stress fractures occur in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg. Most people who suffer stress fractures first notice pain and tenderness with normal walking or running. The pain decreases with rest but will come back quickly when the stressful activity is repeated. Most of the time, stress fractures are a result of a rapid increase of impact activity. An example of a rapid increase in an impact activity would be increasing running mileage from two miles a day for two weeks to six miles a day for two weeks.
Treatment for stress fractures always begins with rest. Bones normally break down when they are stressed, but then they rebuild in a relatively time-related fashion to better encounter those same stresses. It can be most easily described that with stress fractures, the bone needs to “catch up.” The repeated stresses that lead to the injury meant that the bone was being stressed and broken down more quickly than it could heal. The rest period for most people with stress fractures involves a cast or a boot used to protect the injured bone as it heals. Rest may take four to eight weeks, but some people need up to sixteen weeks to fully heal. After such a long period of rest and immobility, the injured leg is going to be severely weakened and the person may be out of shape. Physical therapy is aimed at strengthening and staged loading of the healing bone in order to allow the injured person to return to full sports participation.
If you or someone you know has suffered a stress fracture, ask your doctor to send you to Physical Therapy. If you are in the San Antonio area, ask your doctor to send you to Momentum Physical Therapy and request an appointment online. Call us at (210) 888-1278 to learn more about how we can help you today!