It’s about that time of year again, where everyone starts making resolutions to eat healthier, exercise more, and try to change some habits in an instant. As seasoned athletes and inexperienced individuals begin a new year of exercising, the likelihood of acquiring a stress fracture increases.
The development of stress fractures stems from the forces placed on limbs during repetitive motions involved with exercising, sports, and overuse. A significant proportion of stress fractures that do occur appear in the lower limbs, they are typically seen in the metatarsals, tibia, and fibula and sometimes in the calcaneus or the heel bone.
Common theme with stress fractures
- Sudden increases in activity
- Increase in exercise intensity
- Poor conditioning
- Exercising with improper technique
A combination of these events along with a poor diet can lead to the development of a stress fracture.
Stress Fractures 101
Signs & Symptoms
Pain, tenderness, and possible swelling around the affected area.
Chances of a stress fracture are compounded if the integrity of bones are compromised due to disease, such as osteoporosis and osteopenia.
The early stages are difficult to distinguish on an X-Ray. Upon suspecting a stress fracture, the medical practitioner must take another X-ray after 2 weeks to see if a bony callus formed where the bone has been healed. During this period the patient may be asked to immobilize the foot and ankle in a walking boot, brace or even in a soft cast and refrain from strenuous activity.
The primary danger of a stress fracture is potential for it to become a more serious complete fracture.
The main nonsurgical treatment for stress fractures are:
- Limited weight-bearing
- Rest from activities that may place undue stress on the affected limb
The recommended period for immobilization and limited activity ranges from 4-6 weeks or until complete resolution of symptoms.
Steps to Reduce Your Risk
- Eating a healthy
- Balanced diet to help strengthen bones
- Exercising in a progressively linear fashion
- Using proper form and shoe gear when exercising
- Allowing the body to recover from strenuous activities
As much as we want to stick to our New year’s resolutions, injuring yourself is a much bigger setback than working toward fitness and health goals at a slow and steady pace. If you do feel you may have hurt yourself, make sure to book an appointment with your podiatrist ASAP!