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Stress Fracture of the AnkleStress fractures are tiny cracks in your bones that occur when overly tired muscles can no longer absorb the shock of repeated impact. When this happens, the forces are transferred to your bones, causing stress fractures. Stress fractures are most common in weight-bearing bones in the foot and lower leg.
Causes of Ankle Stress FracturesThe major cause of stress fractures is overuse. They are especially common in athletes that participate in high-impact activities, such as basketball, gymnastics, tennis, and long-distance running. They can also happen if someone leading a relatively sedentary lifestyle suddenly picks up physical activity, because their muscles are not yet trained to absorb repeated shock. Basically, doing "too much too soon" can lead to stress fractures. Teenagers who are still growing are at risk because their bones may not yet have fully hardened. Individuals with weakened bones from conditions such as osteoporosis are also at risk.
Outside factors may also contribute to stress fractures. This includes poor training or technique when performing exercises. Poor exercise equipment can also lead to stress fractures, such as shows that have worn cushioning.
Ankle Stress Fracture SymptomsStress fractures are associated with gradual pain that increases during weight-bearing activity. The pain may decrease with rest, or even go away entirely. There may also be swelling on the top of the foot or around the ankle. The area of the stress fracture may feel tender to the touch, and in some cases bruising may be present.
Ankle Stress Fracture TreatmentAs with any injury, your doctor will be the best source of advice on the appropriate treatment method for your situation. Treatment for ankle stress fractures often begins with rest - and lots of it! Continuing activity may cause the bone to break completely. Ice packs can be applied to the injured area to reduce pain and swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin may be used to alleviate pain, however, they can also inhibit bone healing.
Ankle stress fractures typically take 6 to 8 weeks to heal, and it is normally recommended to switch to non-weight bearing activities such as swimming and biking. Make sure you consult your doctor for which activities are appropriate for your recovery. Wearing an ankle brace such as the Aircast Air-Stirrup may also help you heal more quickly from a stress fracture and prevent re-injury. For lower leg stress fractures products such as the Aircast Leg Brace have been recommended by physicians and medical professionals. Some types of stress fractures may need a cast, because those bones take longer to heal.
For more serious stress fractures, surgery may be required. A fastener will be placed in the bones to hold them together during the healing process. However, most fractures will heal on their own with rest and time, and surgery is not usually required.
Preventing Ankle Stress FracturesStress fractures may be prevented by proper training and technique. This helps prevent muscle fatigue and bone loss. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can also help build up your bone strength. When starting new activities, make sure to do it gradually, then slowly increase time and distance. Also make sure to wear proper shoes and equipment.