What Is a Stress Fracture?

What Is a Stress Fracture

The term “stress fracture” is used fairly often, but not many people know what it means. Also known as a “hairline fracture,” a stress fracture refers to a small crack in a bone that typically results from overuse. This overuse could occur due to repeated use (such as when a runner, dancer, gymnast, or basketball player repeatedly places weight and pressure on his or her feet) or due to “new” use (such as when someone first takes up a sport or exercise regimen and overexerts him- or herself, or when a more experienced athlete starts using different equipment or training more often).

Stress Fracture Symptoms

Stress fractures can cause considerable pain and swelling. Patients often report that the pain caused by a stress fracture is barely noticeable at first, but then worsens over time. In some cases, the resulting pain may improve or go away entirely while resting.

Stress Fracture Risk Factors

Women—especially women who experience abnormal menstruation—are more likely than men to develop stress fractures. Someone may also have a greater chance of developing a stress fracture if he or she:

  • Has osteoporosis or another disease that weakens the bones
  • Doesn’t consume enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Has flat feet
  • Has high, rigid arches

It’s important to remember that having one or more of these risk factors doesn’t mean that someone will definitely develop a stress fracture; it simply means that he or she has a greater likelihood of sustaining this type of injury.

Stress Fracture Treatment

Although surgery is necessary in some instances, stress fractures can generally be treated using conservative methods such as:

  • Resting
  • Icing the affected area
  • Using crutches
  • Bracing the area
  • Wearing a walking boot

Chances are good that a doctor will first recommend some combination of these conservative techniques. In the event that they don’t provide sufficient relief, then surgery may be considered.

Treatment for Stress Fractures in Durham, NC & Surrounding Areas

If you’re concerned that you might have a stress fracture, you can get the help you need from the skilled orthopedists at North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic, a trusted practice that’s been serving the greater Durham, North Carolina, area since 2003. One of the qualities that sets us apart from other providers in the area is our unfailing commitment to delivering specialized care and personalized service. After performing a physical examination and ordering any necessary tests, we’ll provide you with a diagnosis and recommend a course of treatment that’s suited to your unique condition and lifestyle.

To arrange a visit with one of the orthopedists on our team, contact North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic today. We’re open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, so just let us know when you’d like to come in, and we’ll do our best to arrange an appointment at a date and time that’s convenient for you. We look forward to meeting with you, determining exactly what’s causing your pain, and developing a plan for how to relieve your symptoms.