A stress fracture is a small crack or bruising within a bone. Stress fractures commonly occur due to overuse of limbs or exposing joints to repetitive actions. Treatment varies depending on location and severity of the injury. Early diagnosis and treatment of stress fractures can prevent bone damage and further complications. Read on to learn more about recognizing and treating stress fractures.
Stress Fracture Treatment Guide to Ensure Speedy Recovery
Step 1: Recognize the Symptoms of a Stress Fracture
Symptoms associated with a stress fracture are barely noticeable at first. They may only be felt during long periods of exercise. The discomfort subsides as soon as the activity stops. Swelling, tenderness at the site of the injury, and bruising may also appear over time.
Step 2: Diagnose the Stress Fracture with Imaging Tests
Proper assessment of the stress fracture is crucial to prevent further damage to the bone. Doctors may recommend a bone scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan if a suspected stress fracture cannot be seen on an X-ray. X-rays usually display normal results for 10-14 days after the onset of swelling. In some cases, stress fractures start as a tiny crack which is difficult to see on a first X-ray.
Step 3: Comply with Treatment or Management Plan
You may require bracing or surgery depending on the severity of the fracture.
Stress fractures which are at risk of complete fracture or displacement may require casting or bracing. This is necessary to keep the bones in a fixed position and remove stress from the affected limb.
Doctors may recommend surgery for stress fractures. Full recovery following the procedure may take months or years. In most cases, patients require a procedure called internal fixation. The surgical process involves supporting the fractured bones by inserting fasteners such as pins, screws, or plates.
Step 4: Do the RICE Protocol
RICE stands for:
- Rest – Avoid activities that put weight or stress on the fracture.
- Ice – Apply ice packs on the injured area to diminish swelling.
- Compression – Compressing the area lightly with a soft bandage can also prevent additional swelling.
- Elevation – Elevate and rest the foot higher than the heart as often as possible.
Step 5: Avoid Taking Analgesics
Over-the-counter analgesics and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may delay bone healing. Refrain from taking naproxen (Aleve), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and ibuprofen (Motrin). Discuss with a doctor other drug options for discomfort management.
Step 6: Attend Physical Therapy Sessions
Supervised rehabilitation is initiated after a successful recovery from surgery or casting. Doctors also encourage a gradual return to activity. Recommended procedures include remedial exercises, chiropractic treatments, and/or massage therapy. Utmost care should be taken during the first four weeks of recovery. This is the most vulnerable period during a fracture’s reparative process.
Step 7: Post-Recovery Check-up
Schedule at least one follow up visit with the doctor to confirm that the fracture has healed. Another imaging test may be needed to confirm progress.
Check out this comprehensive video on stress fracture symptoms and recovery by Best Simple Remedies:
Any affectation to the bones and muscles can be detrimental to one’s daily living. Stress fractures, in particular, may bring about discomfort in the performance of basic daily activities. Seek a health professional’s advice to prevent complications.
Do you have any advice for those recovering from a stress fracture? Please let us know your thoughts by leaving your comments below.
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