A stress fracture is considered as a prevalent form of overuse injury that is quite common among athletes. In most cases, a broken bone is caused by an acute event such as a vehicular accident or a fall. If this is the case, the bone is subjected to extreme force that results to a stress fracture.
A stress fracture develops once the forces are relatively lower, but can occur repetitively for an extended length of time. This type of fracture is also called as a fatigue fracture. Stress fractures are quite prevalent among athletes who participate in sports that involve running and jumping on tough surfaces such as in ballet, long-distance running and basketball.
Indications of a stress fracture
The usual indication of a stress fracture is pain linked with activity. The pain caused by a stress fracture is usually foreseeable. It simply means that athletes usually know how long into their workout until the pain develops and the pain resolves as soon as the body part is allowed to rest.
If an individual experiences persistent pain that does not resolve, it is best to consult a doctor to check if there is no indication of a stress fracture.
Development of stress fractures
Bone continuously undergoes changes in order to adapt to its environment. Astronauts that travel to space develop bone thinning similar to osteoporosis. The reason for this is that the skeleton is no longer under the constant force of gravity and bone adapts to the environment in space.
Stress fractures are oftentimes seen among athletes who increase their level of activity over a short period of time. This increase places demand on the bone which leads to remodeling of the bone and becoming stronger in areas subjected to high stress. Nevertheless, if the response of the bone could not keep up with the pace of the constant demands, it results to a stress fracture.
It is important to note that stress fractures are always the result of increasing intensity or duration of an activity too rapidly for the body to adjust. Other contributing factors to the development of stress fractures include menstrual irregularities and dietary abnormalities. Take note that both contributes to bone health, thus any issues with the diet or menstruation can put an individual at risk for ending up with a stress fracture.
Management of stress fractures
The ideal form of treatment for a stress fracture is to allow the affected body part of rest. In case there is no evidence that the stress fracture can displace, avoiding the overuse activity is enough. On the other hand, if there is a concern for displacement, weight-bearing must be avoided.
Stress fractures on the hip are worrisome since if these displace, surgery is almost always required and long-term complications are a substantial concern. Other commonly used treatment options for stress fractures include application of an ice pack over the injured area, gradually increasing activities and using proper equipment such as footwear.