What Is A Stress Fracture?

Ankle stress fracture occurs when there is a crack in the ankle bone due to repetitive use or trauma. Stress fractures are commonly seen in the lower limbs such as the ankles and feet. Activities that require constant force such as walking, running, and standing make stress fractures more likely to happen.

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Understanding the symptoms

The main symptoms of a stress fracture are pain and swelling. Pain may begin either at the start of an activity or throughout the activity. Sometimes pain can be relieved during rest, or discomfort may persist during rest as well. When touching the affected area, a patient will feel tenderness. If a stress fracture is not treated immediately, then the pain can worsen with time.

The risk factors

Some people are more prone to getting stress fractures than others. Athletes are at risk due to the continuous repetition of activities. Older people with less bone density are at risk as well. Other factors include low body mass index or underweight individuals and females with irregular menses. People with foot disorders such as tendonitis may be prone to stress fractures.

Non-surgical treatments

The treatment of stress fracture depends on the severity of the fracture. Stress fractures are mostly treated conservatively. The non-surgical options include rest, ice, compression, elevation, anti-inflammatory medications, applying a cast, and wearing proper footwear. Try to avoid putting stress on the affected part during any activity. The healthcare provider may suggest using crutches until the fracture is healed.

Is surgery necessary?

The majority of stress fractures are treated without surgery. However, for very few cases, surgery is recommended. For example, an orthopedic surgeon may need to use surgery to treat a completely displaced and cracked bone. The surgery involves internal fixation and using plates or screws to keep the bones intact. If needed, a follow-up is done for the removal of the screws. The orthopedic surgeons will determine the best treatment option for the ankle stress fracture.

Recuperation time

Normally, stress fractures take about 6-8 weeks to heal completely. However, some severe or chronic cases may take longer, depending on the severity of the injury. The orthopedic surgeon will take an X-ray to confirm if the fracture has healed. Resuming activities will be done gradually according to the doctor’s advice and rehabilitation may also be recommended.

Preventive methods

To avoid experiencing ankle stress fracture, there are some tips to follow. First is to ensure a healthy diet with sufficient calcium and vitamin D for healthy bones. When starting a new activity, begin slowly without putting too much stress on the joints and also, try to alternate between activities. If any pain or swelling is felt during an activity, stop and rest for some time. Add core strengthening exercises and use proper training footwear during activities to avoid future ankle stress fractures and other injuries.

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