Stress Fractures: Shin and Ankle

What Is A Stress Fracture?

stress fractures ankle and shin

A stress fracture is a hairline crack that can occur in the bones from repeated or prolonged use. The most common site for stress fracture are the foot bones (metatarsals), shin bone (tibia), thigh bone (femur), and back bones (vertebrae).  Stress fractures are overuse injuries. The majority of leg injuries occur during activities such as running, jumping, or dancing. Stress fractures of the feet were originally called march fractures because they were commonly seen in military personnel.



What Are The Symptoms Of An Ankle Stress Fracture?

People commonly experience pain in the shin or ankle with activity. You may have swelling and bruising around the involved area. The injured area will be tender to direct pressure.

 

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine you and may order an x-ray. However, x-rays do not always show a stress fracture. Your doctor may order a more specialized test called a bone scan to fully diagnose the extent of the injury.

 

Stress Fracture Treatment:

The most important treatment for a stress fracture is rest. Other treatment may include:

  • 1. Applying ice packs over your injury for 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 to 3 days or until the pain goes away.
  • 2. If you are a runner, running only if there is no pain.
  • 3. Changing your activity, such as from running to swimming.
  • 4. Taking anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by your doctor.
  • 5. Wearing a cast or a ankle stress fracture boot for 3 to 6 weeks while your bone heals.
  • 6. Gradual return to activity and sports using an ankle stress fracture brace.

 

When Can I Return To My Sport Or Activity?

The goal of rehabilitation is to return you to your sport or activity as soon a is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury, which could lead to permanent damage. Everyone recovers from injury at a different rate. Return to your sport or activity will be determined by how soon the fracture heals, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better. After a stress fracture you may do sports or activities that do not cause pain. It is very important no to "run through the pain" because this may cause further injury. You should vary your activity for one week at a time. For instance, if you have a stress fracture from running, you should either rest or swim for a week, then attempt to run short distances. If there is no pain, you can gradually increase your distance.

 

How To Prevent Stress Fractures? 

Stress fractures are caused by overuse. The best way to avoid getting a stress fracture is to listen to your body and not force yourself to do activities while you are in pain. The intensity and or frequency of your training program should be modified as your body has not sufficiently adapted to the stresses being placed on it. Using a calf sleeve can also be used as an effective preventative measure as it provides warmth, compression, and retains therapeutic warmth around the affected area.All material provided is designed for information purposes only and should not be used to replace the care of a health care professional. Do not rely on any of the information for diagnosis or treatment. It is recommended that you visit a qualified health care professional for individual and personal attention.</p>

All material provided is designed for information purposes only and should not be used to replace the care of a health care professional. Do not rely on any of the information for diagnosis or treatment. It is recommended that you visit a qualified health care professional for individual and personal attention.

 
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