Stress Fractures

Stress Fracture Treatment

A stress fracture is an overuse injury that occurs when muscles around a bony structure become fatigued and are unable to absorb the added shock. This will cause transfer of overload stress to the associated bone leading to a tiny crack called a stress fracture.

Common location of stress fractures

Weight bearing bones of the lower leg and the foot

Causes a stress fracture

Stress fractures often occur due to any of the following reasons:

  • Rapid increase in the amount or intensity of an activity

  • Trauma caused by repetitive stress of the foot striking ground

  • Impact of an unfamiliar surface (change of soft to hard surface or vice versa)

  • Improper equipment (like worn or less flexible shoes)

  • Increased physical stress

Risk activities that make athletes most susceptible to stress fractures

Sports persons involved in following activities are at higher risk of developing stress fractures:

  • Tennis

  • Trackers

  • Running

  • Jumping

  • Gymnastics

  • Basketball

  • Bowling a ball in cricket

  • Rowing

All the sportsperson (especially females) are therefore advised to take sufficient rest between workouts or competitions to avoid any kind of stress fracture.

Symptoms of a stress fracture

The most common symptom of stress fracture is pain with activity that subsides with rest. In some cases there can be swelling or tenderness over the site.

Treatment of stress fractures

While most of the stress fractures heal on their own with rest for 6-8 weeks from the activity and sports. But stress fracture can recur so the activity should not be resumed too quickly and harshly. In addition to rest, following may also help in healing of fracture:

  • Shoe inserts or braces

  • Splint or cast to immobilise the affected area

  • Use of crutches or a walking stick

  • Surgery in cases of severe stress fractures