One of the most common injuries in sport is the stress fracture, sometimes referred to as a hairline fracture. Stress fractures can occur in any bone in the body; however the most common location is in the feet, where the weight of the body is concentrated.
Studies have shown that runners; gymnasts, football players and tennis players and other athletes whose sporting activity or exercise regime puts the foot under high stress, strong forces and high impact landings are the most likely candidates for stress fracture injuries. These usually occur when muscles are fatigued and unable to absorb added shock. Eventually, the fatigued muscle transfers the overload of stress to the bone causing the stress fracture. An increase in a training regime beyond the widely accepted 10 percent per week rule can often lead to the occurrence of stress fractures.
Stress fractures can also be caused by the impact of the foot on an unfamiliar surface, such as a tennis player who has switched surfaces from a soft grass court to a hard court, or an athlete using improper equipment such as worn trainers.
Most stress fractures occur in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and the foot, the most common locations being the second and third metatarsals of the foot – the long bones that run down to the toes. They can also occur in the heel and in the navicular bone, at the top of the midfoot in front of the ankle.
Patients are usually recommended to rest from the activity that caused the stress fracture during the six to eight weeks it takes most stress fractures to heal, although with some stress fractures this healing time can be much longer. Failure to adhere to this regime can cause larger, harder-to-heal stress fractures to develop, while re-injury can also lead to chronic problems where the stress fracture might never heal properly.
According to a study by the International Society for Medical Shockwave Treatment, shockwave therapy has shown been shown to speed bone healing metabolism, reducing healing time and obtaining a faster recovery with fewer incidences of repeat fractures. These studies have included treatment of professional tennis players and Olympic athletes who also report significant pain reduction.
To find out more about stress fractures and shock wave therapy, or to book a free consultation, contact us now.