A tiny crack in a dam might not seem like a big deal until the waters break through and flood the other side. This example of something going wrong is not atypical for any structure that faces a tremendous amount of pressure. The skeletal system provides the structure for your body and, like other structures, it is vulnerable when there is even a slight crack. There are various causes of stress fractures, but it is important that they are recognized early to prevent larger issues.
A Minor Break?
A stress fracture is a tiny crack that happens in one of your bones, typically in your foot, ankle, or lower leg. Your lower body bears the bulk of your bodyweight when you move, so it is only natural that we are more likely to find this type of break in that region. This ailment is particularly evident in track and field athletes, but anyone can potentially develop a stress fracture.
Even though the fissure itself is not large, it is important to deal with this condition sooner rather than later. Much like a tiny crack in a dam that results in flooding, the consequences of not properly treating a stress fracture can increase and include chronic pain, higher risk for additional fractures, and a worsening of the current condition.
Recognizing a Slight Fracture
When you sustain a larger break, it will likely have come from blunt force, such as a car crash or a fall from a considerable height. The intense pain coupled with a clear root cause makes it easy to identify a broken bone. Since stress fractures develop over time, this is not often the case. With a stress fracture, you will observe minor pain that worsens with time in a specific location. Tenderness will accompany the pain, especially during activity, but decrease when you rest. There may also be swelling around the area. Since these symptoms are also found in a sprain, it is best to come in and have your injury examined by our office.
Cracking the Surface
One of the main causes of stress fractures is simply overuse. The forces from your bodyweight and gravity when you run (without taking enough time to properly recover) add up and take their toll on your bones. Your skeletal system has a natural process of constant resorption and growth of bone tissue, but too much unaccustomed force leads to your body resorbing bones cells at a faster rate than you replace them. Put simply, you fatigue your bones and make them more susceptible to tiny cracks that become fractures.
Making Sure Everything Lines Up
Treatment for stress fractures is centered on making sure that your body is able to heal itself in the proper manner. Your natural processes will begin working to repair the damaged bone, but it is important to ensure that the bone is lined up correctly and that you rest so as to give your body the time to do what it needs to. During this time, it is essential that you keep your bodyweight off the affected appendage as much as possible. You will definitely need to abstain from athletic competition and high-impact exercises. Additionally, we advise that you follow an icing regimen to help with the swelling and pain.
It doesn’t take much to decrease your risk of sustaining one of these fractures. Since they are often the result of attempting to do too much, too soon with regard to a workout program, make a slow progression with regards to duration, frequency, and intensity of your sessions. Cross-train by mixing in low-impact activities like swimming and bicycling to your workout plan. Include plenty of nutrients and calcium in your diet to promote strong bones.
When you experience pain and discomfort in your foot or ankle, visit our office for a professional diagnosis and the expert care and treatment you have come to expect from Shenandoah Podiatry. We have offices conveniently located in Blacksburg and Roanoke, VA , to serve those areas and the surrounding communities of Christiansburg and Cove Spring. Call (540) 808-4343 for our Blacksburg office or (540) 904-1458 for our Roanoke office.