How Do You Detect A Stress Fracture?

An image of doctors checking a X-ray image of fractured bones

How do you detect a stress fracture?

For instance, you just had an injury by running down a flight of stairs or in the gym, using improper form or body mechanics to complete your workout or conditioning for competition. After that, you hear a pop or feel a crack, but you think nothing of it, however, when you move you feel a sudden sharp, throbbing pain rushing in the area of injury. You immediately call your physician and they suspect you have a stress fracture. Most likely the doctor will suggest an MRI scan to diagnose a stress fracture. In this article, we have put together what a stress fracture is. It’s healing process, and what you should and should not do in such situations.

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is a group of small breaks and cracks in bone that cannot be seen by the naked eye. With no proof of injury to other surrounding structures. These particular breaks are usually caused by repetitive injury. Therefore, which can occur in actions such as running or jumping or overhead labour. People with an injury must watch out as the bone could heal improperly if unnoticed. In bone healing there are four phases; Reactive phase: when the actual fracture occurs and blood cells surround the area forming a protective and active hematoma. Reparative phase: where fibro cartilage is formed creating a callus in the fractured area. Where this callus hardens and the fracture is fused. Bone remodelling phase that is refining the bone break completely healing it.
An image that shows stages of fracture repair
Stages of fracture repair
  Bones hold 99% of the body’s calcium. Regulation of calcium in the body is controlled by re-uptake of calcium from bone into the blood stream. As a result, rebinding the calcium from the bloodstream into the bone in order to maintain balance. Also, the bloods healing mechanism of clotting requires a certain concentration level of calcium, as do enzymes of the body for  appropriate reactions to occur. Calcium exchange is done by the control of hormones secreted. The main one being the parathyroid hormone. It controls the release of calcium by detecting stimuli in the environment. Which allows it to increase or decrease the concentration of calcium depending on environmental and stress level needs. Thus, if these tiny bone breaks – which may be multiple or just one – could heal but cause deformity and mechanical inefficiency to movement.

Do’s and Don’ts While Recovering

According to Cleveland Clinic, stress fractures happen because of repetitive stress and overuse, so it’s important to avoid the activity that led to the fracture. Applying an ice pack (10 minutes) or ice massage (ice cube rub for three to five minutes) to the injured area. resting for roughly two to eight weeks.
The RICE Acronym is the best and most vital part to heal a stress fracture completely. Initially, for the first two weeks avoid unnecessary weight bearing movements on the injured, fractured area. RICE stands for: Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate. Two weeks after your symptoms started, it is usually okay to put full weight on the area. Weight bearing can help the stress fracture heal but don’t do anything that hurts. For the next six to eight weeks, or until you are pain free avoid the activity that caused the stress fracture; and avoid putting too much weight on the affected area. I you exercise again too soon, you could delay the healing process, you could even cause damage that may never heal properly. Here are the different types of massage treatments that may help in your recovery journey.    

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