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Learn What Causes Stress Fractures

Posted on in Orthopedic Surgeons

Ouch! Lately, after finishing weeknight practices with your summer soccer league, your left shin feels very sore. You’ve tried resting it, icing it, and taking anti-inflammatories, but nothing seems to help, and it seems to be getting worse. You decide it is time to see your doctor. After a trip to the orthopedic center in Jacksonville, FL, you’ve been diagnosed with a stress fracture! Does this mean you have a broken bone? Is your summer ruined?? Don’t panic. Keep reading to find out more.

What Are Stress Fractures?

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone.

What Causes a Stress Fracture?

Stress fractures, simply put, are caused by overuse. A continuous, repetitive motion such as running long distances or jumping up and down without proper rest can cause tiny cracks to form in your bones. Starting a new exercise and doing too much too soon is a recipe for a stress fracture. When bones are overworked and don’t have sufficient time to recovery, a fracture can form. A stress fracture can also be caused by everyday activities in the bones of people who have osteoporosis.

Where Do Stress Fractures Most Commonly Occur?

Stress fractures most commonly occur in the bones of the legs and feet. These bones bear most of the weight of the body and are more susceptible to stress fractures.

Who Is at Risk for a Stress Fracture?

Athletes who run long distances are particularly at risk, including soccer players, long-distance runners, basketball players, and track and field athletes. This is due to the repeated pounding running has on leg bones and muscles. Military personnel who carry heavy packs over long distances are also susceptible, along with backpackers and hunters hiking with heavy packs. But, anyone can develop a stress fracture, especially if you start a new exercise program and try to do too much too quickly.

What Are the Symptoms of a Stress Fracture?

Pain is the first clue you might have a stress fracture. Usually mild at first, stress fractures become increasingly more painful as they progress and are left untreated. The affected bone feels tender to the touch, but the pain eases after a period of rest. Swelling can also occur around the affected area.

How Are Stress Fractures Diagnosed?

Your orthopedic in Jacksonville, FL, will first try to use an X-ray to diagnose your stress fracture. Stress fractures often don’t show up in X-rays during the first few weeks of the injury, and your doctor may require a bone scan or MRI to see the fracture.

How Long Does It Take to Heal from a Stress Fracture?

A stress fracture usually requires 6 to 8 weeks to heal. This means you need to limit your activities and let the injured bone heal. Try not to put any weight on your injury while it is healing. You can use a walking boot or crutches to speed up the healing process.

How Can I Prevent Stress Fractures?

Stress fractures can be prevented by wearing the proper footwear for your activity or sport. When starting a new exercise program, start off slowly and never do too much too soon. Let your body rest adequately after exercise, and never push through any pain. Keep your bones strong and make sure your diet includes calcium and vitamin D.

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