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What do they mean if they say I have a stress fracture?

By Anonymous January 20, 2009 - 2:18am
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I was told I have one, in my foot. It hurts like crazy. They x-rayed it and wrapped it in an ace bandage. But how would I get such a thing? How long will it take before it doesn't bother me anymore?

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The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains it best:
"A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone. They often develop from overuse, such as from high-impact sports like distance running or basketball. When muscles are overtired (fatigued), they are no longer able to absorb the shock of repeated impacts. When this happens, the muscles transfer the stress to the bones, creating a small crack or fracture."

If you did not injury your foot during exercise, they also point out:
"Stress fractures can also occur with normal usage if bones have been weakened by osteoporosis or other disease. These fractures are often called "insufficiency fractures" because there isn't enough bone to withstand the normal stress of daily use."

Do any of these descriptions sound like what you experienced?

As far as the healing process, it depends where the stress fracture is located. "Most stress fractures will heal if you reduce your level of activity and wear protective footwear for 2 to 4 weeks." However, "Stress fractures in the fifth metatarsal bone (on the outer side of the foot) or in the navicular or talus bones take longer to heal, perhaps as long as 6 to 8 weeks."

Did the doctor recommend a pain reliever for you? Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) may help relieve pain and swelling.

Additional Resources:
- American Podiatric Medical Association
- Medline Plus Foot Injuries
- APMA Foot Skeletal Structure (so you know which bone(s) in your feet your doctor is referring to!)

January 20, 2009 - 2:46pm
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