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Stress fracture amid pandemic: Know its symptoms, treatment and causes

"The term ‘stress fracture’ refers to a very small crack in the bone that can happen from repetitive trauma and is commonly found in the shin bone, foot, heel, hip, and lower back," said Dr Maninder Shah Singh

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
August 15, 2021 12:30:34 pm
stress facture, stress fracture causesThe common symptom is pain that reduces during resting, but occurs and intensifies during normal, daily activities. (Getty Images/Thinkstock)

While the pandemic has made people conscious about remaining active for health, fitness and immunity, doctors have noticed a significant rise in the number of people experiencing ‘stress fracture’. According to experts, since the phased unlocking last year, cases of stress fracture have increased by 100 per cent. They say that middle-aged people, who have not indulged in outdoor activities ever but started after lockdown was lifted, comprise 10 per cent of the patients in the past one year.

“Before the pandemic, we used to get 15-18 cases of stress fracture in a year, mainly after events like a marathon in the city or after Amarnath Yatra as people who may not have conditioned their bodies for the rigours of these activities would get affected. However, cases this year have doubled – we have received more than 30 cases so far, which is a significant increase. Most of the patients belong to the age group of 30-40 years, followed by 40-50 years,” said Dr Maninder Shah Singh, Sr. Consultant Orthopedics and Chief of Foot and Ankle Service, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, New Delhi.

He added that most of these people have never done rigorous exercises such as running, skipping, sports or jumping. However, with the discussion around health, immunity and fitness raging amid the pandemic, they chose to become active, which was a shock for their body that is both unaccustomed and unconditioned for such activities. “We have advised them RICE (Rest; Ice; Compression and Elevation) as first-aid and completely stopping any morning walk or running for 6 weeks; none of them required surgery,” he told indianexpress.com.

What is stress fracture and what are its symptoms?

The term ‘stress fracture’ refers to a very small crack in the bone that can happen from repetitive trauma and is commonly found in the shin bone, foot, heel, hip, and lower back. The common symptom is pain. It reduces during resting but occurs and intensifies during normal, daily activities; swelling on the top of the foot or on the outside of the ankle; tenderness to touch at the site of the fracture; and possible bruising. “Jumping up and down repeatedly, running long distances, or wearing wrong or worn-out footwear can cause a stress fracture. If left unattended, such pain at the site of stress fracture and around it may increase and increase the risk of suffering a complete fracture in the affected bone,” the expert shared.

He added that stress fractures are the most regular injury seen in athletes and military recruits. Such fractures occur more in the lower limbs than in the upper limbs. These injuries should be examined for those who present with pain after a latest increase in activity with limited rest. “This injury begins with repetitive and excessive stress on the bone which can result into the acceleration of normal bone remodelling, the production of micro fractures (caused by insufficient time for the bone to repair), the creation of a bone stress injury (i.e., stress reaction), and, eventually, a stress fracture,” he said.

Primary advice to patients

*Patients are advised RICE (Rest; Ice; Compression; and Elevation) as first-aid and complete stopping any morning walk or running for around six weeks; none of them required surgery

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📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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