If you are experiencing stress fracture symptoms or a stress fracture, Apex Manual Therapy will identify the root cause of the problem to provide effective treatment that relieves your pain.
Our advanced physical therapists are among the 1,800 practitioners to have obtained the highest level of orthopedic physical therapy training. They are recognized as Fellows of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy (FAAOMPT). This educational achievement is beyond the doctorate level and guarantees the gold standard care for musculoskeletal conditions.
At Apex Manual Therapy each visit is spent entirely one-on-one with a fellow to provide the very best stress fracture treatment. If you’re in the greater Austin or Pflugerville, TX area schedule a free consultation with our advanced therapists. We guarantee you’ll see the difference in our approach and your results.
Types of Stress Fractures
A stress fracture is the breakdown of bone. Stress fractures are classified into two categories:
Fatigue stress fractures occur when there’s normal bone density but it breaks down from excessive loading on the bone without an adequate amount of recovery time. This type of fracture is seen in athletes whose sport requires them to repetitively load the bone. In runners, it is the lower leg bones that are most affected, including the tibia, femur and fibula. In gymnasts, the upper limbs are often affected as their sport involves repetitive loading through the arms.
Bone insufficiency stress fracture happens when the bone mineral density is poor therefore the bone is unable to take the load of normal everyday activities. This is not due to overloading the bone.
Physiology Behind Stress Fractures
Bones are constantly remodeling throughout life. This remodeling occurs due to a balance between two types of cells known as osteoclast and osteoblast. If these cells are not balanced, osteoporosis or stress fractures can occur.
When bones are loaded (forces applied throughout them) osteoclast cells activate and begin to break down and absorb old bone. Osteoblast cells then come in to rebuild new bone. Therefore, the proper amount of loading and unloading is important to maintain strong bones. If one repeatedly loads their bones without taking adequate amount of rest, the bone is unable to recover and rebuild properly. On the other side, if one rests too much and never loads their bones, the bones become weak.
Stress Fracture Symptoms
Patients often report symptoms after a sudden increased in physical activity and taking little time for rest and recovery. Depending on the severity of the stress fracture, symptoms may decrease with resting or avoiding high-impact activities that cause pain.
Pain is usually reserved to a specific location and is not widespread.
Swelling may or may not be visible.
The area is often sensitive to touch.
An MRI will show the presence of a stress fracture, but it’s not required for diagnosing. Lab tests may be needed to rule out hormone imbalances responsible for insufficiency stress fractures.
Stress Fracture Treatment Options
The number one reason fatigue stress fractures occur is from movement dysfunctions and not simply because a person overdid it. An example of this is when a runner presents with a stress fracture on one leg, yet the other leg ran the same amount. How come both legs run the same amount, yet only one breaks down? Poor loading of the joints is the answer. Therefore, resting alone will not prevent a stress fracture from returning. One must learn how to properly load and distribute forces correctly throughout the joints.
Physical therapists are the movement specialist who can correct body mechanics and force distribution to assure your body does not break down.
If you are experiencing a fatigue stress fracture, the first step is to consult with a physical therapist to identify any movement dysfunctions. If a bone insufficient stress fracture is suspected or an MRI is needed, your physical therapist will refer you to the appropriate healthcare provider.