Stress Fracture Treatment Options
What is a stress fracture?
A stress fracture, sometimes called a hairline fracture, is a thin fracture caused by recurrent force to an area. A stress fracture can also occur if you have bones weakened by osteoporosis. This type of injury is most common in the lower extremities:
- Tibia (larger inner leg bone)
- Fibula (smaller outer leg bone)
- Metatarsals of the foot
Stress fractures are frequently found in runners, athletes, and dancers.
Stress fracture symptoms
The pain of a stress fracture often develops gradually and increases with any weight-bearing activity. Some additional symptoms may include:
- Diminished pain when resting
- Intensified pain with normal daily activities
- Tenderness to the touch
Some stress fractures can be diagnosed with a physical examination, but most will require an X-ray.
Stress fracture treatment
For a suspected stress fracture, start with First Aid and the RICE protocol:
- Rest. Avoid weight-bearing activity as much as possible
- Ice. To reduce swelling, apply ice immediately after the injury followed by cold packs several times per day for 20 minutes each time.
- Compression. Use a soft bandage to lightly wrap the area.
- Elevation. Rest with your foot higher than your heart as often as you can.
A medication such as ibuprofen can also help with the pain and inflammation.
When to see a Doctor?
If you suspect a stress fracture, you should see a doctor before the injury gets any worse. With stress fracture treatment, your doctor may have you wear a walking boot or use crutches while the injury is healing. This can take 6-8 weeks. If you think you may have a stress fracture, visit the Colorado Springs Orthopaedic Group Express Care Clinic or schedule an appointment with one of our qualified specialists to have your injury evaluated.