Avid atheletes and exercise fanatics know all too well that healthy bodies are key to the active lifestyle they live. Training and physical preparation is critical in achieving success and can help its participants to live a longer, healthier life when executed well. While high impact activities have many benefits, certain risks exist that threaten to derail the fun.
Developing slowly, stress fractures begin as a a tender ache that worsens with exercise. Different than typical breaks, this type of fracture progresses gradually over time rather than as a traumatic break during a one-time injury. Tiny cracks occur when frequent, excessive force is applied to the bone from actitivies such as running or jumping repetitively.
ATHLETES ARE AT HIGH RISK
People with nutritional deficiencies, arthritis, diabetes, and other issues putting bones and tendons in jeopardy may find themselves susceptible to stress fracture injuries. The break can also develop from the normal use of a bone that’s weakened by an ailment such as osteoporosis, but the condition is seen much more commonly in athletes or individuals who exercise often. As stress fractures are most common in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot, participants in dance, gymnastics or other sports experience them more frequently and track and field competitors are especially at risk.
PAIN IS THE MOST COMMON SYMPTOM
The best way to determine if you may be suffering from a stress fracture is by considering the amount of pain or discomfort you experience while exercising versus rest. Pain tends to be one of the most common indicators, especially if it lessens while resting or abstaining from certain activities. Swelling and bruising may also be seen as a symptom of a stress fracture.
SHOULD I SEE A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER?
Patients may prolong their injury by continuing physcial activity after symptoms begin. At the first indication of a stress fracture, you should see a healthcare provider so that an X-ray may be taken. In some cases, a CT scan (computerized tomography) or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) may be recommended because not all breaks are visible on an X-ray.
THERE ARE A VARIETY OF NON-SURGICAL TREATMENTS
Many stress fractures can be treated without surgery. In fact, the first course of treament should include rest, icing and elevation of the injury. Your healthcare provider may recommend taking an anti-inflammatory medication to relieve swelling and pain. A referral to a podiatrist is also possible for the obtaining of custom-made orthotics for your shoes. These shoe inserts help reduce pain when standing or walking with a stress fracture. Some stress fractures will require casting so that the injury can heal appropriately.
If you are concerned you have suffered a stress fracture, Urgent Clinics Medical Care offers on-the-spot digital X-ray services throughout the Houston area and no appointment is necessary. If needed, we will refer you to a specialist or the appropriate imaging service. You’re welcome to visit any of our convenient locations daily from 8 am until 9 pm in Champions Forest, The Woodlands and 3 locations in League City: Creekside, Marina Bay and Tuscan Lakes. Our Pearland Clinic is open until midnight, 7 days a week!