Treating Stress Fractures

Overview

In most cases, a stress fracture is treated with relative rest and with ice and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce inflammation and pain.  The patient should plan to stop activities that cause pain for four to eight weeks. Splinting might help immobilize a joint and increase blood flow to the extremity. Rarely, crutches are prescribed to keep the patient's weight entirely off the sore bone.

Rehabilitation typically includes muscle strengthening around the injured bone so it absorbs less of the load generated during physical activities. A regimen of thorough stretching would be introduced at this time, as well.

Swimming, cycling and pool running are exercises that enable a patient to maintain aerobic fitness while recovering.

Some patients benefit from an electronic stimulator, which sends electrical impulses into the bone to promote its regeneration in micro-fractures.

After that initial layoff from activity, the patient should slowly reintroduce the activity over a period of two weeks, monitoring pain closely to reduce chances of its recurrence.

Surgery might be indicated in cases of severe stress fractures.