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What are the Different Types of Stress Fracture Treatment?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 January 2020
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A stress fracture could be described as a break in a bone that results from overuse; it may occur in people who have weakening in their bones or it frequently is an injury suffered by athletes who do too much activity too quickly. Many of these fractures are relatively minor and don’t displace bone, but this is not always the case. Given the range of injury, stress fracture treatment will be variable and individualized, especially tied to degree of injury and speed of recovery.

The first thing people should do if they suspect a stress or other type of fracture is to see a physician. It’s hard to tell from home the extent of an injury, but a physician has tools he can utilize to make a more accurate diagnosis. These include scanning ability with x-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. Once such scans are performed, the doctor can recommend the most appropriate stress fracture treatment.

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When the break is truly minor, stress fracture treatment may be equally low-key. People may be told to rest the affected area as much as possible, to keep it elevated, and, for a few days, to use ice for 15-20 minutes every four hours to reduce swelling. Avoiding any activities that cause pain for at least a few weeks and avoiding the activities that might have resulted in the fracture may be recommended too, and doctors may want to follow up with patients anywhere from two to six weeks after diagnosis to make certain bone healing is occurring

Sometimes concern exists about the stability of the bone and any use of it without greater protection. Should a fracture be more severe, doctors may instead choose to use a brace or a cast to immobilize the area. Immobilization can help promote greater bone healing and prevents a person from causing additional injury to the fractured area. This stress fracture treatment certainly may interfere more with daily life, especially if the cast is located in a prominent or frequently used area. Fortunately, casting doesn’t tend to last past six weeks, and many people have casts removed sooner.

The most aggressive stress fracture treatment is surgery to repair serious breakage of bone. This might involve placement of pins, plates, or screws to help knit bone back into place and promote the bone healing. Using a brace or cast typically follows surgery, and time of immobilization might mean people could require some physical therapy before or after cast removal. Since many stress fractures are minor, this treatment is not that common.

Stress fracture treatment can be directed at preventing fractures. Treatment for osteoporosis, especially in post-menopausal women, is typically recommended to reduce chance of bone breaks. Professional athletes are trained with great care, so that they avoid making repeated wrong moves or steps that can stress bone. Despite these preventatives, stress fractures are still relatively common.

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