The most important treatment is rest from the activity that caused the stress fracture. Participating in another pain-free activity during the six to eight weeks it takes most stress fractures to heal is recommended.
If the activity that caused the stress fracture is resumed too quickly, further stress fractures can occur. Re-injury also could lead to chronic problems where the stress fracture might never heal properly. In addition to rest, shoe inserts or braces may be used to help these injuries heal.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has developed a number of recommendations to help prevent stress fractures:
- When participating in any new sports activity, set incremental goals. So don’t immediately set out to run ten kilometres a day. Gradually build up your distance on a weekly basis.
- Cross-training can help to prevent injuries like stress fractures. Instead of running every day to meet cardiovascular goals, run on even days and bike on odd days. Add some strength training and flexibility exercises to the mix for the most benefit.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Make sure you incorporate calcium and vitamin D-rich foods in your meals.
- Use the proper equipment. Do not wear old or worn running shoes.
- If pain or swelling occurs, immediately stop the activity and rest for a few days. If continued pain persists, see an orthopaedic surgeon.
- It is important to remember that if you recognize the symptoms early and treat them appropriately, you can return to sports at your normal playing level.