Suffering from Stress Fracture? Visit Your Physio

Suffering from Stress Fracture? Visit Your Physio

Stress fractures are something physiotherapists treat on a regular basis. Commonly experienced by runners, hikers and those who lead active lifestyles; it can be easy to brush off the warning signs until the pain becomes too much to bear. If you suspect you may have a stress fracture, you should schedule an appointment with your physio as soon as possible for professional diagnosis.

Below you will find an overview of stress fracture causes, warning signs and treatment options.


How do Stress Fractures Occur?

Whilst human bones are strong, they are not invincible. Stress fractures are an overuse injury; the result of micro tears/cracks building up over time within your bone structure. In the early stages pain may be minimal, but if left untreated the cracks will grow in size and pain will worsen.

Stress fractures can occur in anyone, but they are particularly common amongst runners, basketballers, football players, dancers, hikers, gymnasts and people who suffer from osteoporosis and poor bone density. All these activities place significant stress on the lower limbs and feet, so it is important that you give yourself time to recover. If you need to bend over frequently (e.g. cricket player or work in a warehouse), you may also be at risk of incurring a lumbar spine stress fracture.

The best way to avoid stress fracture injuries is by taking a slow and steady approach towards your physical pursuits. Always allow yourself time to rest, and never try to push yourself too far. It’s also a good idea to have your shoes professionally fitted, as ill-fitting shoes are another contributing factor to stress fractures.


The Typical Indicators of Stress Fractures

All weight bearing bones within the human body are susceptible to stress fractures. The key areas to be aware of are the metatarsal and navicular bones (feet), calcaneus (heel bone), tibia (shin bone) and the femur and pelvis.

Early identification of symptoms is important, as this will allow for the best chances of full recovery. Schedule an appointment with your physio if you notice the following:

  • Sharp limb or joint pain when engaged in physical activity
  • Sudden onset of pain
  • Pinpoint pain (when gently pressing against the area)
  • Limping or difficulty performing your usual exercise
  • Swelling or tenderness around affected limb/joint

Stress fractures are rarely able to be diagnosed by physical examinations alone. X-rays, bone scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be necessary to provide an accurate diagnosis, so contact your physio or GP at your earliest convenience.


Treatment of Stress Fractures

Every condition is unique, and your physiotherapist will provide you with a tailored treatment plan to provide you with the best chances of a full recovery. Treatment generally involves the following:

  1. Rest and Recovery

Cease unnecessary weight bearing activity and ensure that you get plenty of rest, as this will allow the natural healing process to begin. Ice packs and non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications may be used to reduce pain and swelling.

Your physio will provide professional advice during your initial consultation. In some cases, we might also recommend the use of crutches or a walking boot to provide additional protection and support.

  1. Rehabilitation and Strengthening

After about 2-6 week (depending upon severity), the bone should have healed and the rehabilitation and strengthening process can begin. We use bracing, activity modification and various physical therapy treatments to support you on your path to full recovery.

It is important that you avoid the activity which caused the fracture, otherwise the healing process will be delayed, and you may cause irreversible damage. Your physio will recommend low impact activities (e.g. swimming or cycling) which may be a good alternative in the meantime.

  1. Full Recovery

After 2-3 months you should show signs of a full recovery and can gradually commence your regular routine.


Therapy Services Physio – Your Trusted Partner in Recovery

If you believe you may have sustained a stress fracture, don’t delay. Contact the friendly team at Therapy Services Physio on (02) 8382 6935 for an accurate diagnosis and to have a treatment plan put in place. We’re here to help, and you can expect 100% one-to-one attention throughout the duration of your treatment