Stress Fractures – Beware of the Signs


Stress fractures are one of the most common injuries experienced by active individuals, but it’s easy to miss the warning signs as in the beginning the symptoms tend to be rather benign. However, symptoms should not be ignored as left untreated they will begin to get worse and you may cause permanent damage.

In this blog post, Brunswick Heads Physio will be filling you in on everything you need to know about stress fractures. Don’t miss the warning signs. If you have any concerns, please book an appointment to discuss your symptoms with our professional team of physiotherapists today.

What is a Stress Fracture?

As the name implies, stress fractures are tiny cracks within your bone structure. The cracks usually start out as hairline cracks accompanied by mild pain, but this will progressively worsen.

Highly active people are most at risk of stress fractures, but they can occur in people of all ages. Keen runners, football players, basketball players and dancers are particularly at risk due to frequent and repeated stress on their lower limbs and feet. Gymnasts and cricketers may also experience lumbar spine stress fractures due to repeated bending.

If you suffer from osteoporosis, have poor bone density or are about to start a new training program, you should be careful not to push your exercise regime too far. Stress fractures occur because the bone is unable to withstand the repeated strain, so adjustments will need to be made in order to prevent avoidable injury.

What to Look Out For

Nobody likes to be laid up with an injury any longer than necessary, so it is important that you are aware of the signs of a stress fracture. You should look out for:

  • Pain felt within limbs or joints, particularly during physical activity
  • Sporadic pain which subsides with rest
  • Ongoing pain
  • Difficulty performing exercise using the affected limb
  • Sudden occurrence of pain following a recent change in exercise regime

If you experience any of the above signs, you may wish to discuss them with your GP or physiotherapist who can refer you for X-rays and confirm the diagnosis.

Treating Stress Fractures

The best way to treat stress fractures is to rest up. Surgery is rarely required, instead it is recommended that individuals avoid strenuous activity in favour of plenty of rest and regular visits to your physiotherapist.

At Brunswick Heads Physio, we deal with stress fractures on a regular basis. We aim to provide our clients with the best possible chance of full recovery by tailoring bracing and physical therapy treatments on a case by case basis.

Top Tips for Avoiding Stress Fractures

We’re all about prevention, and by following a few helpful tips you can significantly reduce your risk of developing stress fractures. We suggest the following:

  • Small Goals – we understand you may be eager about starting a new sport or exercise regime, but it’s important to take small steps. Set yourself goals and build up your strength gradually rather than diving in with gusto.
  • Change it up – routine is boring! Running is great for cardiovascular health, but it is also a high intensity form of exercise. Instead of running every day, why not change it up with a cycle or swim instead? This will reduce your risk of stress fractures whilst still improving cardiovascular health.
  • Eat Well – make sure that you are eating plenty of nutritious foods, particularly those high in calcium and Vitamin D as this will improve bone density.
  • Wear Appropriate Footwear – poor choice in footwear will increase your risk of serious injury. You should always have your sports shoes fitted by a professional.
  • Recognise the Symptoms – if despite the above advice you are experiencing pain, don’t panic! Cease all exercise and book an appointment at Brunswick Heads Physio, and we’ll have you sorted out in no time. Early treatment of stress fractures is key to achieving full recovery.

Brunswick Heads Physio – Your Partner in Recovery

We are passionate about helping our clients manage their injuries safely and efficiently so that you can get back to enjoying life faster. If you suspect you may have sustained a stress fracture, please schedule a consultation with us today to confirm the diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan.