Stress Fractures – What Are They & How Do You Treat Them?

The feet are perhaps some of the most critical aspects of the body. As such, taking good care of your feet is essential for various reasons. Various physical health complications can easily compromise your day to day schedule. For instance, a stress fracture can cause immense pain and discomfort. However, there are various useful prevention, recovery and treatment methods to consider for the health issue. The treatment process often relates to the nature of the damage, and the level of pain as well.  In most cases, stress fractures occur to people who don’t have active lives. When such individuals engage in a sudden burst of exercise, this causes stress on the bones.

More so, such injuries are also common in physical activity enthusiasts. This is why such injuries are common among professional sportsmen. Other factors such as muscle fatigue can also contribute significantly to the problem. For instance, a runner taking a stride places stress on the bone structure in the feet. Such movement causes a shock on the feet, and feet sometimes fail to absorb such high levels of stress. As such, the bones and muscles suffer from fatigue, which leads to the issue of stress fractures.

What is A Stress Fracture?

A stress fracture is a form of physical damage that occurs on the bones due to increased pressure or repeated stress over time. While most forms of fracture occur due to a single impact, the stress fracture occurs over a specific duration of time. The common activities that can lead to a stress fracture include intense physical activity, all day standing, lack of proper health and more. In most cases, the stress fractures are categorized as small cracks that come up in the bones of the feet. The main symptom of the condition is experiencing pain in the feet, especially when in motion.

Treatment

There are various methods that can be used to treat stress fractures. Usually, these treatment methods help to relieve pain and aid in the healing of the fracture. Adhering to the doctor’s treatment plan will play a significant role in the treatment and recovery process. More so, treatment usually relates to various factors such as the location of stress and the level of pain. Most of the stress fractures can be treated using noninvasive methods.

Noninvasive Treatment

Aside from anti-inflammatory and painkilling medication, the doctor might recommend various other treatment strategies. This might include the use of crutches to improve the management of pressure on the feet. Other common treatment approaches might include:

  • Modified activities – usually, the stress fracture takes an average of 2 months to recover fully. During this time, the individual has to switch to activities that place minimal pressure on the foot. Cycling and swimming are frequent in such activities. More so, you might also have to seek for reviews to your job description during the recovery process.
  • Protective footwear – to help in controlling the pressure on the leg and foot, the doctor might recommend protective footwear. This might include a night split, orthotics, insoles, slip on, leg braces and more.
  • Casting – while casting is primarily used to treat broken bones, it can also work well for treating stress fractures. The cast is beneficial in restructuring the foot and promoting optimal recovery as well.

When You Might Require Surgery

For most physical foot health complications, surgery is usually classified as a secondary treatment method. Typically, the operation might involve restructuring the bone to promote fast recovery.  The surgical treatment might reduce the recovery time by an average of two weeks. However, such a process is considered as invasive and is only suitable for people with severe fractures. More so, the process is also only suitable for people who require fast recovery from the injury.

Recovery

The recover process is equally as important as the treatment method. The average recovery period for a stress fracture can average in between 8 to 10 weeks. Various factors such as your lifestyle habits and more play a significant role in the recovery process. In fact, returning to physical activity as soon as the foot heals can increase the problem. Any form of re-injury to the foot can lead to issues such as broken bones and excruciating pain. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you ensure that feet remain undisturbed during the recovery procedure.

Once the pain reduces, your medical practitioner should perform an X-ray to evaluate the quality of recovery. Usually, this involves the process referred to as the Computer Tomography (CT), which is crucial in the healing of bones. More so, during the initial days of the recovery process, your doctor might recommend a specific diet and physical activity plan. Ensure that you adhere to the given plan if you want the best recovery outcomes.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you are wearing comfortable, yet supportive footwear around the house. In the winter, a good pair of arch support slippers comes to mind. In the summer, you may opt for arch support sandals instead.

Prevention

Preventing stress fractures is all about staying informed and applying the correct lifestyle habits. Consider these top tips for avoiding stress fractures:

  • Consume a healthy diet – a healthy diet ensures that you get sufficient minerals such as calcium which are essential in bone recovery.
  • Use the proper training regimen – your training should relate to the nature of your physical activities and your physical characteristics as well.
  • Get back to exercise gradually – people who often engage in a burst of exercise are highly prone to stress fracture issues
  • Wear the proper gear – using the proper footwear can play a significant role in reducing the likelihood of fatigue on the feet

Bottom Line

All things considered, stress fractures are a form of foot injury that can be prevented and treated effectively. Your ability to prevent or treat the problem relates to your ability to make good choices. Even though stress fractures are common in people who place stress on the feet, it can occur to almost any individual. A stress fracture occurs due to immense fatigue placed on the foot and bone structures. Being able to address such an issue is vital in managing the problem. This includes eating healthy, training properly and putting on the correct footwear.

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