Stress fractures take many athletes "out of the game". So it's important to have an understanding of how you get them so you can prevent and properly treat them.
Stress fractures are an overuse injury, also known as march fractures because of the number of soldiers who get them in boot camp. They are very common in the foot especially the metatarsals, or long bones leading to the toes. They happen commonly when someone takes up a new workout regimen or increases the intensity of their exercise.
A stress fracture is much like a cracking the shell of an egg. When you first tap the edge of that shell, you will see a small crack. That crack is the equivalent of a stress fracture. When you keep tapping that egg eventually it will crack in half. That would be a complete fracture or "broken bone".
Symptoms of a stress fracture include :
- Localized pain along a bone
- Diffuse swelling
- Pain with weight bearing
- Inability to continue running or exercising
The most important aspect of treatment of a stress fracture is early detection.
The sooner a patient stops "overusing" the area and seeks treatment the faster the healing. At your appointment the diagnosis is made on X-rays and thorough examination. In some cases an MRI is also required.
The treatment for a stress fracture is immobilization. You will be placed in a special healing shoe, brace and/or a walking boot. Rest, anti inflammatory medication, and icing are also used.