How (and Why) to Keep a Stress Fracture from Getting Worse

How (and Why) to Keep a Stress Fracture from Getting Worse

For active adults and athletes, there's nothing worse than an injury that keeps you off your feet and away from the physical activities you enjoy most. Stress fractures are one of the most common sports injuries.

These tiny cracks or significant bruising in the bone result from overuse activities that involve repetitive force, like jumping or long-distance running. At New Canaan Podiatry in Connecticut, board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, gives patients the care needed to help stress fractures heal.

Keep reading to learn why it's crucial to stop your stress fracture from getting worse and how you can ensure it gets better instead of worse. 

Why you don’t want your stress fracture to worsen

Stress fractures can be quite painful. Fortunately, with the proper care, most people can return to normal after 6-8 weeks. Taking action early on in your injury gives your body a chance to heal the stress fracture more efficiently. 

However, if you don't take the proper precautions, you increase your risk of a more significant break or fracture. In addition, not treating a stress fracture can cause the bones to heal improperly. Some people even require surgical treatment to hold the small bones of your foot or leg in place. 

Ways to prevent your stress fracture from worsening

Taking proactive measures to prevent a stress fracture from worsening is crucial for your overall well-being and a speedy recovery. Here's a look at our top tips for making sure you don't make your stress fracture worse: 

1. Rest your body and your injury

One of the most important ways to stop your stress fracture from worsening is to allow your body to rest and recover. To do this, avoiding activities that strain the affected area is essential.

In addition, be sure to get plenty of sleep. Sleep allows your body to repair and regenerate damaged tissues, helping you heal faster. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and helps keep stress hormones down, which is essential for healing.

2. Keep swelling under control

Stress fractures often come with swelling, which can impede the healing process. To help keep swelling under control, try the RICE method:

Dr. Tauber can give you specific instructions for your unique injury. 

3. Eat to heal 

The foods you eat significantly affect your healing after a stress fracture. As such, giving your body the nutrients it needs to repair the stress fracture is important. Opt for whole foods and avoid processed goods whenever possible. Other dietary tips include: 

Eating a nutritious diet can help prevent your stress fracture from worsening. 

4. Exercise in different ways

While it's essential to rest the affected area, it doesn't mean you have to be completely sedentary. Engaging in non-weight-bearing exercises can help maintain your overall fitness and prevent deconditioning. 

As you recover, explore options like swimming, stationary cycling, or using an elliptical machine to maintain cardiovascular fitness. Be sure to consult Dr. Tauber for personalized guidance on suitable exercises and give you the green light to return to your normal activities when right. 

5. Avoid things that slow healing

Certain habits and factors can hinder the healing process of a stress fracture. To prevent worsening, consider the following:

You'll also want to avoid wearing inappropriate or worn-out footwear, which can worsen your stress fracture. Instead, invest in supportive, cushioned shoes that provide proper shock absorption and stability for your specific activities, or talk to Dr. Tauber about custom inserts or orthotics.

For more tips on preventing a stress fracture from worsening, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Tauber at New Canaan Podiatry. 

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