Stress fractures are a common injury type for athletes and gym goers. Of this population, runners and basketball players have the highest risk. This is most likely due to a combination of over-training and heavy impact on a hard surface. Basically stress fractures are small cracks in the bone leading to pain and inflammation.
The symptoms of a stress fracture develop gradually so it might present as just a niggle to start with. Over time the pain gets worse and you may begin to notice bruising, tenderness when touching it, redness and localised swelling.
This type of injury is diagnosed by x-ray and, in rare cases, an MRI or CT scan may be required. If left untreated, stress fractures can cause further injury and chronic pain. Additionally, a fracture has the potential to grow worse, and surgery may be required. Early intervention can help a fracture to heal faster and prevent complications.
These injuries account for about two percent of all sports injuries and, even though they can be quite painful, the symptoms typically go away within months if you follow appropriate advice. Rest is important, but a skilled therapist can help improve your range of motion and strengthen the affected area to speed up healing time.
They may also prescribe Orthotics and immobilisation devices, and suggest alternative exercise regimes such as swimming or Pilates. With the right treatment plan, you can return to exercise pain free and, hopefully, with some understanding of how to prevent these types of injury in the future.