What is a Stress Fracture?


Having an active lifestyle is so important to maintain a healthy body and mind. But, sometimes we can over do it. A while back I wrote a peice on over training. These days I have been better about listening to my body, and have a better balance with Yoga, running and hiking. It is easy to cross the line, and some weeks I really have to hold myself back and have a Restorative Yoga Session.
However, in the clinic I do see patients with overuse stress fractures from excessive activities with not enough rest between sessions. Sometimes these stress fractures are diagnosed late because the patient is unaware of the symptoms, or other times the patient just push through pain.
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One of the most effective ways to avoid a stress fracture is to stop if there is continued pain or soreness. There is a time to push through fatigued muscles, and there is a time for rest. There is a fine line to building, and overdoing. If you feel your mind becoming caught up in the “I must”, or “I have to”, stop and review the reasons you feel this way. Are these thoughts stemming from fears? Remember, if you take care of yourself now more training days will come again quick. If you ignore signals the body is sending you, training and just doing activities you enjoy, won’t be available for weeks or even months down the road.
Just ListenSome reasons why a stress fracture may occur:
  • Prolonged training sessions
  • Impact forces
  • Training on hard surfaces
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Inability for muscle strength to keep up with activity
  • Over training
  • Misalignment
  • Change in diet (malnutrition) or change in menstrual cycle
5th met fxOne common location of a stress fracture in active athletes is in the 5th metatarsal or 5th bone of the foot, or in the Tibia or shin bone.
Some common signs and symptoms of a stress fracture are:
  • A deep nagging persistent pain, especially at night
  • Point tenderness
  • An inability to put weight on the foot without pain
If you are experiencing these symptoms make sure to visit your MD. You are diagnosed with a stress fracture through X-Ray, MRI or bone scan. Sometimes an X-ray may not pick up a stress fracture initially, so its important to be persistent with seeking care and rest if pain persists.  If you do have a stress fracture, the best thing you can do is rest. Depending on the location you may need a walking boot or crutches to allow the fracture to heal with less friction from every step.
If you have any questions please drop me a line: berryhappybodies@gmail.com
Contributed by Dr. Alison McLean

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