What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is as an overuse injury that happens when the muscles become tired and are unable to absorb pressure and shock. The fatigued muscles then put the added pressure and stress on to the bone, causing a tiny crack to form. Most stress fractures occur in the feet and lower leg bones, since those are the heaviest weight-bearing bones of the body.

Stress fractures usually occur when a person increases their activity level or intensity too quickly. Poor foot support and walking/running surfaces can also contribute to the creation of a stress fracture.

How do I know I have a stress fracture?

Stress fractures can come on without warning with no other obvious explanation. You may be able to find a spot on your bone that is so tender that pressing on it produces intense pain. Unless you suspect a hip stress fracture, you can try a hop test. If it hurts when you hop on your injured leg, you may have a stress fracture.

How to prevent a stress fracture

While there are some biomedical factors that can contribute to an increased risk of suffering from a stress fracture, such as low bone remodeling rate and skeletal alignment, there are preventive measures to avoid getting the injury.

Wearing proper running shoes for your training needs, running environment, and abilities. Not all shoes are created equal. It is incredibly important to visit a running shoe specialist, like Fleet Feet Sports, to ensure that the pair you choose to spend the most miles in is the best fit for your foot. By examining your gait, the specialist can help you find the most supportive shoe for you.

© Parkinsonsniper | Dreamstime.com

© Parkinsonsniper | Dreamstime.com

Listen to your body. If you are sore, don’t try to take on a monumental feat. Setting attainable incremental goals will allow your body time to adjust to the new activity you’re having it do. When muscles are sore their shock absorption ability is lessened. If you continue to feel soreness in the same areas after each training session, it might be a sign of strength imbalance. Persistent pain should lead you to consult with a health professional to identify the problem and possible treatments. AMH offers massage therapy which can provide relief between trainings.

How to treat a stress fracture

Treatment options for stress fractures depend on how early the injury is diagnosed. If found very early, treatment is as simple as rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories, whether that’s medication or alternative treatments. However proper assessment of the injury is crucial to preventing further fracturing of bone. Hoping it will just go away, as runners sometimes do with injuries, will only increase risk of further injury and deeper bone fracture.

At Aligned Modern Health, we recommend starting with a thorough assessment from a chiropractor to establish an appropriate treatment plan. Our chiropractors in Chicago help athletes and active individuals seeking treatment for stress fractures by addressing issues of postural support and biomechanical stress. Throughout recovery for stress fractures, the goal is to heal the body and improve its ability to repair and adapt in the future.

Working closely with chiropractic goals, our team of rehabilitation therapists help to build a foundation for treatment that provides activity modification so the injury may heal without further stress. Treatment also includes a program of muscle strengthening and conditioning so that patients come out recovery with the tools to perform stronger than before.

Acupuncture is becoming a popular alternative treatment option for runners looking for “pill-free pain relief.” The needles used in acupuncture promote increase blood flow to the targeted area, stimulating the body to send it’s “healers” to the location – similar to a histamine response. Our team of highly-skilled acupuncturists specialize in helping Chicago’s athletic community get back on their feet and work to speed up recovery and rest time.

Rest is the most important treatment to abide by. If a stress fracture isn’t completely healed before returning to exercise, it could result in a more damaging and possibly even chronic injury. During the “off weeks,” runners can find their movement through minimal impact exercises such as cycling and deep-water running. While time off from competition and training can be challenging, many runners find extra benefit exploring our Functional Medicine and Clinical Nutrition services that help them find more energy and restore their body to an optimal state of health and balance.

Whether your goals are recovery, injury prevention or performance optimization, the doctors at Aligned Modern Health are available to help identify the treatments and recovery plans that best fit your goals and lifestyles. Find out why we were voted “Best Sports Rehab in the Midwest” and schedule a complimentary consultation in one of our convenient Chicagoland neighborhood locations.