Local doctors see increase in stress fractures

Springfield Regional Medical Center

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Springfield Regional Medical Center

Mercy Health-Springfield warning people to be careful as they exercise as more warmer days approach.

As people emerge from their homes to ramp up yard work, sports, and other outdoor activities, Mercy Health – Springfield experts caution the public to be aware that stress fractures are a common occurrence this time of year.

Stress fractures are tiny breaks or cracks caused by repeated impact on a bone that’s become weak from overuse. This can occur on any weight-bearing bone, but feet are especially vulnerable.

“One of the benefits of living in this area is being surrounded by so many outdoor recreational attractions. We have Buck Creek and John Bryan State Parks, miles of bike trails, numerous sports leagues, etc.” said Greg Mann, physician assistant with Mercy Health – Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

Mann also warned of the potential for “too much of a good thing.”

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According to Mercy Health, Springfield Regional Medical Center has seen more than 100 patients visit its orthopedic practices with stress fractures in the past year, with a “higher prevalence” in warmer months. These visits do not include

Stress fractures often occur when people pick up a new exercise routine too vigorously without giving their bones proper time to adjust to new physical stresses.

“Bones become stronger with use, but they need an acclimation period to build up that strength,” said Dr. Christopher Malone with Mercy Health – Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

Malone suggested slowly conditioning: if a person used to be able to run or walk two miles, that person should start back up at a half a mile for a while to allow the body time to build up strength.

“Your bones will be stronger if you use them more, but they need that acclimation period to build up that strength, so they don’t develop stress fractures.”

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Listening to your body is also important, the hospital network release said. Some soreness after exercising – especially if it follows a hiatus from physical activity – is natural. However, localized pain and swelling for prolonged periods of time may be a sign that a stress fracture has already developed.

Man said that if a person if experiencing symptoms related to a stress fracture, that person should consult a physician to evaluate the risk factors and complete a physical exam.

If diagnosis of stress fracture is confirmed, there are various treatment paths to get you back on your feet, Mann said. Rest is one of the best ways to treat stress fractures, though a protective boot may also be prescribed.

Physical therapy may also be an option to help you learn modifications that can alter your exercise mechanics to reduce your risk of stress fractures. You can also prevent injury by wearing supportive athletic shoes and getting plenty of Vitamin D.

“It’s something most people are deficient in, especially coming out of a long Ohio winter when we’ve been pent up indoors. Vitamin D helps increase the amount of calcium your body absorbs, which helps maintain strong bones,” Malone said.

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