How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Stress Fracture
As long as you can feel pain, the bone is still fragile in that area, and could break again in the same place. It takes roughly six to eight weeks for a stress fracture to heal, so it is important to stop the activities that caused the stress fracture. Always ask your doctor before you fully return back to exercise to make sure the area is healed and you are ready to go.
Fractured Vs Broken Foot
A foot fracture is the medical term for a broken foot. However, the terms fracture and break are used interchangeably. There are, of course, degrees and types of breaks in the foot just as in any part of the body each requiring a different course of treatment.
The number of people suffering from broken bones each year varies. The most recent data shows between 11 and 15 million reported lower limb fractures each year. These fractures include the hip, upper and lower leg, ankle, foot, and toe. Within that, between 66 and 75 percent of these breaks occur in the ankle, foot, and toe.
Can Stress Fractures Be Prevented
Parents can help prevent stress fractures by making sure that kids:
- Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of calcium and vitamin D.
- Know that the risks of smoking include slowed healing of broken bones.
Kids who are very active or play sports should:
- Always warm up before practices and meets.
- Start any new activity or exercise slowly.
- Slowly increase how long and how hard they train.
- Stop any activity or exercise if pain or swelling starts.
- Use the right sports equipment, especially supportive shoes in good condition.
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The Difference Between A Hairline Fracture And A Sprain
For an athlete, sports injuries such as hairline fractures and sprains are inevitable. But how do you differentiate between the two? A qualified orthopedics specialist can diagnose and treat these injuries to avert further damage. At Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine, our orthopedic specialists have the experience to diagnose the injury at the source and determine the best treatment options for each injury. Here is a brief description of the two, alongside the most appropriate treatment options for each.
All About Foot Stress Fractures
Stress fractures, sometimes called hairline fractures, often occur in the feet, because of the weight-bearing responsibility of these bones. Stress fractures are small, microscopic cracks in bone that occur when the bone is unable to handle the load, or weight, placed on it.
Foot stress fractures are often caused by overuse or repetitive activities. Because of this, stress fractures are commonly seen in athletes, such as runners, soccer players, or dancers, but they can also be seen in normal people who have changed their daily activities.
Foot stress fractures also occur more frequently in people with health problems that affect bones such as osteoporosis, or people with abnormal gait or other problems, such as bunions or tendonitis.
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How Do You Know If You Have A Hairline Fracture In Your Foot
One of the most common sports injuries we treat at Foot and Ankle Surgeons of New York are hairline fractures. While hairline fractures are fairly common and treatable, letting your symptoms go untreated can lead to various problems down the line. Please continue reading below to learn more about how our Foot Surgery in Woodbury can help address the signs of hairline fractures in the foot.
What Is A Hairline Fracture?
A hairline fracture, or stress fracture, is a severe bruise or small crack in the bone. Hairline fractures are most common in athletes involved in sports that involve lots of running and jumping. The bones of the legs and feet are more prone to hairline fractures since they absorb a lot of stress when running and dropping. The most common sign of a hairline fracture is pain that gradually worsens over time or feels worse during activity. Other symptoms may include any of the following:
- Tenderness or pinpoint pain.
Hairline fractures are mainly caused by overuse or repetitive activities. Changing the duration or frequency of activity can also contribute to hairline fractures. If you do not treat a hairline fracture early on, the pain can become severe. There is also a risk that a fracture may become displaced. Displaced fractures may require foot surgery in Woodbury to realign the bones.
Treating Hairline Fractures
What Causes Stress Fractures
Many sports raise the risk of stress fractures. Activities that require running and jumping may cause fractures in the legs or feet. More than half of all adult and adolescent stress fractures occur in the lower leg bones. Of these, fractures of the tibia — the long bone of our lower leg — are the most common at about 24% of all stress fractures.
Other sports that require repetitive movements — like pitching or rowing — can result in stress fractures of the humerus , but these are much rarer.
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How Is A Stress Fracture Diagnosed
Your doctor may need to do several tests to see if you have a stress fracture and the severity of the fracture. These tests can include:
- Physical examination: During your first visit, your doctor will do a physical exam and discuss your risk factors for developing a stress fracture. When discussing risk factors, you will be asked about:
- Your medical history.
- Your activities.
- Any medications you might be taking.
What Is Hairline Fractures
Hairline fractures, also referred to as stress fractures are now slowly becoming an infamous dilemma in the area of sports medicine. It is caused by the application of repetitive strain and excessive training. Hairline Fractures are minute cracks on the bones, which can become severe if not treated immediately.
Basically this injury is caused by the depressed response of the bone with the ground-reaction forces that are applied to the bones during activities like jumping, running or walking. Despite that bones have the ability to bend a little if stress is applied on them, they can also develop small cracks if they are overused.
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What Is The Treatment For Stress Fractures
First aid for stress fractures
Itâs important to see your doctor, because the bone could break completely without treatment. In the meantime, follow the RICE guidelines:
- Rest. Avoid weight-bearing activities. Wear a stiff-soled, supportive shoe if necessary.
- Ice. To ease swelling, ice the area for 24 to 48 hours. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply for 20 minutes at a time. Never put ice directly on your skin.
- Compression. Wrap a soft bandage around the area to ease swelling.
- Elevation. Use pillows to raise your foot or leg higher than your heart.
Medications for stress fractures
Nonsurgical treatments for stress fractures
Most people donât need surgery to repair a stress fracture. Along with the RICE plan to reduce pain, your doctor may try one or more of these treatments while your fracture heals:
- Crutches or a cane for support
- Protective footwear like a boot or brace to lessen stress on the fracture
- Casts to keep your fracture in a fixed position while it heals
Surgery for stress fractures
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Hairline Fractures
Some people don’t realize they have a hairline fracture until they’ve stopped moving for the day and recognize the pain. Hairline fractures might not hurt as much as a fully broken bone, so they might go ignored. However, failing to rest the injury could result in further fractures.
Like any broken bone, you should visit your doctor to receive an examination. This is especially important if you are an athlete and don’t want the injury to affect your performance in the future. Your doctor will recommend rest above all else hairline fractures are not serious, but they can be exacerbated and turn into serious issues.
As you heal, you might benefit from rehabilitation by a professional sports medicine doctor. You can request an appointment with Dr. Blackwell by contacting our Tomball or Shenandoah location.
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What Causes A Stress Fracture
Risk factors for stress fractures can be divided into two basic categories: extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic factors happen outside of the body. These can also be called environmental factors. These factors can include:
- Practicing incorrect training or sport technique.
- Having too rapid of a training program or volume of activity or changing your activity level without a gradual break-in period.
- Changing the surface you exercise on, such as going from a soft surface to outside on gravel or concrete.
- Running on a track or road with sloped surface.
- Using poor equipment or improper footwear .
- Doing repetitive activity in certain high-impact sports, such as:
- Long-distance running .
Intrinsic factors are things that are related to the athlete or patient and arent impacted by outside forces. These factors can include:
Mechanism Of Injury: Foot Stress Fractures
Bones are living tissues that are constantly adapting to loads by rebuilding and repairing. This process is called remodeling and is the reason that bones can heal after injury. This process also helps bones become stronger when loaded appropriately, and the reason bones become weaker if they are not exposed to sufficient loads.1
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Treatment Of Traumatic/acute Fractures
The severity of the fracture dictates the treatment of traumatic/acute fractures. Non-displaced fractures are typically treated with a period of immobilization. The location of the fracture will dictate the type of immobilization required. Forms of immobilization include a cast with crutches, a walking cast, a walking boot, or a hard soled surgical shoe. Fractures generally take six weeks to heal, yet this time frame can be longer depending on co-morbidities and compliance.
Certain fractures will require surgical correction and Dr. Stewart will determine if you need surgery. The goal of surgery is to reduce the fracture to anatomic position and this is accomplished with screws, plates, and wires.
How Is A Stress Fracture Treated
Stress fractures are treated in several ways. Your doctor will discuss your options based on the location and severity of your fracture. Also, your provider will aim to treat any risk factors you have for future injuries.
Treatments your doctor may recommend can include:
- Stopping the activity that is causing pain. Stress fractures happen because of repetitive stress and overuse, so its important to avoid the activity that led to the fracture.
- Applying an ice pack or ice massage to the injured area.
- Resting for roughly two to eight weeks.
- Cross training by doing non-impact exercise after discussion with your doctor may be allowed. Eventually, once you can perform low-impact activities for extended periods without pain, you can start doing high-impact exercises. Often, physical therapy can be very helpful in returning to activities and making adjustments to avoid reinjury.
- Adjusting your position if there is swelling in your leg, ankle or foot. You can lessen the swelling by elevating your leg raising your foot above the level of your heart while youre lying on your back.
- Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to help relieve pain and swelling.
- Using protective footwear to reduce stress on your foot or leg. This may be stiff-soled shoe, a wooden-soled sandal, or a post-op shoe which has a rigid sole.
- Using crutches to keep weight off your foot or leg until the bone heals.
How Is A Foot Fracture Treated
Treatment depends on the kind of fracture you have and how bad it is. You may need any of the following:
- A boot, cast, or splint may be put on your foot and lower leg to decrease your foot movement. These work to hold the broken bones in place, decrease pain, and prevent more damage to your foot.
- Medicines may be given to prevent or treat pain or a bacterial infection. You may also need a vaccine to prevent tetanus if bone broke through the skin. A tetanus shot is given if you have not had a booster in the past 5 to 10 years.
- Surgery may be used to put your bones back into the correct position. Wires, pins, plates, or screws may be used to keep the broken pieces lined up correctly and hold them together.
Stress Fractures Of The Navicular
The navicular is one of the bones in the middle of the foot. Stress fractures of the navicular cause pain that is difficult to pinpoint. The pain is worsened by weightbearing and other physical activities, such as sprinting or jumping. The navicular bone is not commonly associated with stress fractures, and the diagnosis can sometimes be hard to make. Your doctor may order a CT scan or MRI scan if they are concerned that you have a navicular stress fracture.
Treatment of this injury can sometimes require a cast and a period of non-weightbearing for a few weeks. This is one type of stress fracture where surgery is more commonly recommended to stabilize the bones and expedite healing.
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Whats The Outlook For Someone With A Hairline Fracture
Its important to avoid high-impact activities during the healing process. Returning to high-impact activities especially the one that caused the injury in the first place wont only delay healing but increase the risk of a complete fracture in the bone.
Your Podiatrist may advise taking another X-ray to ensure healing before allowing you to return to your previous activities. Even after the hairline fracture is healed, its important to gradually return to exercise.
In rare instances, hairline fractures wont heal properly. This results in chronic, long-term pain. Its important to talk to your doctor to prevent pain and worsening injuries.
Who Is At Risk Of Getting Injured
The following are groups that face higher risks of bone injuries:
- Athletes who engage in high-impact activities, such as running, ballet dancing, track and field, baseball, football, basketball, tennis and gymnastics, among other pursuits
- People with foot problems including those with high arches, rigid arches or flat feet
- Individuals with bone conditions, including weakened bones from osteoporosis
- Those with previous hairline fractures
In addition, other factors can increase risks:
- Certain medications can affect bone density and strength
- Use of improper sports equipment, such as poor running shoes
- Changing playing surfaces, such as a tennis player who moves from a grass court to a hard court
- Lack of nutrients from eating disorders or not getting enough vitamin D
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Where Do Stress Fractures Happen
Stress fractures can occur anywhere there is overuse, but theyre most commonly found in the lower extremity as a result of impact and weight bearing activities. The most common bone is the shin bone or tibia . Stress fractures can also occur in the foot. The foot is made up of several small bones. The bones running to the toes are called metatarsals. There are five metatarsals in each foot. It is most common for a stress fracture to happen in the second and third metatarsals. Stress fractures can also be seen in the heel , hip and even the lower back.
What Causes A Hairline Fracture
Most hairline fractures are caused from either overuse or repetitive activity. An increase in either the duration or frequency of activity can result in a hairline fracture. This means that even if you are used to running, suddenly increasing either your distance or the number of times per week you run can cause this injury.
Another similar cause of a hairline fracture is changing the type of exercise you do. For example, if youre an excellent swimmer, its still possible to sustain an injury from suddenly engaging in another intense activity like running, no matter how good of shape you may be in.
Bones adapt to increased forces put on them through various activities, where new bones form to replace old bone. This process is called remodeling. When the breakdown happens more rapidly than new bone can form, you increase your likelihood of a hairline fracture.
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