Most people understand bone breaks that happen from trauma. A bone snaps, cracks or even splits entirely because of an extreme amount of outside force or pressure. Many, however, do not understand what a stress fracture is or why its name is so apt.
What Is A Stress Fracture?
A stress fracture is not the same thing as a compound fracture or a bone that breaks, splits or cracks due to trauma. This type of injury happens when small amounts of pressure repeatedly impact the same areas on a body. Stress fractures are most common in the lower extremities where weight and impact can come into play.
Just like psychological stress, a stress fracture involves damage that occurs over time. A little bit of pressure on a bone once in a while does no harm. But, when this pressure happens over and over again, the bone eventual gives out and fractures. This is very similar to the effects of long-term psychological stress on a human body. Whereas minor stressors seem minor as they happen, when they pile up over time, major problems like heart attacks can result.
Who Can It Affect?
A stress fracture can technically happen to anyone of any age. They are most commonly seen in athletes, however. Dancers, runners, basketball players and others who perform on hard surfaces are the most likely to be impacted by a stress fracture. When the person jumps and lands on the hard surface over and over again, the weight of their body and the surface tend to put a chink in the bone`s armor, so to say. The most common areas for a stress fracture to take place are the shins and feet.
How Is A Stress Fracture Treated?
Actual treatment of a stress fracture can depend a whole lot on the area of the fracture and its severity. In some cases, casts might be called for. In others, nothing more than a wrap and avoiding putting weight on the fracture is needed.
Avoiding A Stress Fracture
While it is not always possible to avoid this type of injury, there are ways to lessen the chances of it happening. Athletes who take their time and build up their level of activity slowly are less likely to develop these kind of fractures. Since bone constantly builds itself to adapt to changes in environment or activity, a slow work up to a heavy schedule of play or practice can make a big difference.
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