Human bodies are vulnerable to fractures owing to their normal activities and abnormalities of bones. Stress fracture is one of such medical abnormalities caused by the stress on bone.
When a bone in the human body breaks due to repetitive stress such a break in bone is termed as stress fracture. In stress fracture, the bone may get fractured or develop a small crack in the outer shell. Stress fracture can occur in any bone. However, metatarsal foot bones are considered as most vulnerable to occurrence of stress fracture. At times, the stress fracture of metatarsal bones of foot does not appear in even in x-ray during the initial day succeeding injury.
Though stress fracture usually occurs in outer shell of the bone not treating it at initial stage may result in progress of such fracture in overt (through and through) form of the bone fracture.
Considering their cause of occurrence stress fractures are also known as fatigue fractures. In fact, stress fractures are result of excessive stress on the bone. Such stress can be caused due to sports and other physical activities like spending prolonged times on feet.
Symptoms of Stress Fracture
Following are some of the common symptoms of stress fracture.
- Severe pain in forefoot. Such pain can aggravate by walking
- Feeling of tenderness on applying pressure on metatarsal bone surface.
- Swollen skin of the forefoot
- Redness or bruising of forefoot
Usually, symptoms of stress fracture are preceded by inflammation of connective tissues that covers the bone surface.
Causes attributable to development of Stress Fracture
As is understood from nomenclature stress fracture is caused due to overuse of bones. In simple words it is a type of overuse injury. It is caused due to muscle fatigue and inability of the muscles to absorb the additional shock. The overload of stress can not be sustained by the fatigued muscles and as a result of this bone causes tiny cracks called stress fracture. Some of the other common causes include:
- Complications produced by other diseases like osteoporosis; bone deformity from hammer toe, bunion etc.
- Abnormality of mechanism or structure of foot like flatfoot.
- Enhanced activity levels without proper conditioning. A runner may develop stress fracture if he increases his training too often.
- Wearing improper or worn footwear.
- Excessive body weight
Treatment of Stress Fracture
Most of the available treatments are aimed at providing pain relief. Medications of pain and rest are the usual methods of treatment. Generally, stress fracture heals with in period of 6 to 8 weeks if treated properly and rest is provided. Recurrence of injury may lead to development of chronic stress fracture. Such chronic problem may take prolonged to time to heal or at times may turn to be incurable.
Prevention of Stress Fracture
Adherence to following tips will help you in prevention of stress fracture.
- If you are sportsman, always increase your training gradually
- Take well balanced nutritious diet
- Wear properly fitting footwear
If you experience difficulty in performing activities such as running etc and symptoms like swelling or pain occurs, stop the activity forthwith and take rest. If you could not gain relief even after rest consult your doctor for further management.