Stress fractures are common in the feet and legs.

Stress Fracture Types & Treatments

Stress fractures are common injuries experienced by people of all ages and activity levels.  Learn more about the different types of stress fractures and the treatment options available at Arkansas Surgical Hospital.

Low-Risk Stress Fractures

Low-risk stress fractures can usually heal without requiring surgery.  They are not likely to develop complications.  Common locations of low-risk stress fractures include your fibula, which is next to your shin bone, and your calcaneus, or heel bone.

Conservative treatment involving RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and limited weightbearing is the standard first line of treatment.  This treatment can last anywhere from around six weeks to a full year and is typically enough to heal your stress fracture when there are no complications.  However, low-risk stress fractures can sometimes progress to high-risk stress fractures if conservative measures do not help.

High-Risk Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are categorized as high-risk if there is a high chance of displacement, delayed union, non-union, or completion (a complete break) of the fracture.  These stress fractures often occur in areas with low blood supply, which is necessary for bone development.  Examples of these areas include certain bones in your feet, such as the metatarsals (the long, tubular bones in the middle of your foot) and the navicular (a concave bone towards the inner side of your foot).

Other high-risk stress fracture locations include “tension-side” bones, which means they bear weight as your body goes through various movements.  Stress fractures in these areas are more likely to become displaced or progress to a complete fracture.  One of these locations is the outer side of your femur, or thigh bone.

Finally, bones in areas without much muscle or other soft tissue coverage—such as your tibia, or shin bone—are also prone to high-risk stress fractures.  If your stress fracture is in one of these areas, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery.  While some high-risk stress fractures heal on their own, surgical intervention is often needed to ensure complete healing.

If your stress fracture does not heal with rest, you may need surgery.  There are several different surgical techniques for stress fracture treatment, including screws, wires, rods, and plates designed to help your bone progress to full union.

Displaced Stress Fractures

Displacement is the term used to describe bone edges that have moved out of alignment, which makes it harder for your stress fracture to heal.

Displacement has several risks.  For example, displaced stress fractures in your femur can lead to avascular necrosis—the death of bone tissue caused by lack of blood supply—in the ball of your joint, which can cause arthritis or even collapse of the bone.

If your stress fracture is displaced, your treatment will need to be more aggressive.  Your bone will need to be immobilized, usually using a cast or splint, and you will need to rest it completely (i.e., no weight-bearing or unnecessary activity) for several weeks.  If that does not help, internal fixation using screws or rods is the next step to ensure healing of your stress fracture.

Delayed Union and Non-Union of Stress Fractures

There are several factors that can slow down or even prevent the healing of your stress fracture, including diabetes, hormone imbalance, and unhealthy habits.

In order to ensure complete healing of your stress fracture, you will need to follow your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions on what to do—and what not to do—before, during, and after your treatment.  Examples include:

  • Stop smoking.  Nicotine delays healing and tobacco weakens your bones.
  • Improve your diet.  Insufficient calcium and vitamin D can make it more difficult for your stress fracture to heal.
  • Do not return to activity before your orthopedic surgeon approves it.  This could delay healing and may even result in a complete fracture.

Diagnosed with a Stress Fracture?

If you are suffering from a stress fracture, contact Arkansas Surgical Hospital at (877) 918-7020 for help setting up an appointment with one of our specialists.

What to Know Before Replacing Your Hip

Considering a Hip Replacement? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you’re living with hip pain and have tried non-surgical treatments—like painkillers, physical therapy, and injections—without relief, it may be time to consider hip replacement surgery.  But before you make that decision, there are many important factors to consider.

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If chronic pain in your knees keeps you from enjoying your life, it may be time to speak to a surgeon at Arkansas Surgical Hospital about total joint surgery.

How to Tell It’s Time for Joint Surgery

If chronic pain in your shoulders, hips, or knees keeps you from enjoying your life, it may be time to speak to a surgeon at Arkansas Surgical Hospital about total joint replacement surgery.

The “right time” for a joint replacement varies from person to person based on age, severity of symptoms, and other medical conditions. By being aware of the most common signs that it’s time for a joint replacement, you will be in a better position to make the best decision for you and your body.

Generally, it may be the right time to consider the possibility of having a joint replacement if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Your joint pain prevents you from engaging in everyday activities.  If you avoid stairs or standing up after sitting because the pain you know you’ll experience just isn’t worth it, it might be time for total joint replacement surgery.
  • Your joint pain is negatively affecting your sleep.  One way to determine if joint pain is severe enough for total replacement surgery is if it keeps you from falling asleep or wakes you up at night.
  • Your joint pain continues to persist despite therapy or other non-surgical treatments.  If you have already tried prescription and over-the-counter medication, steroid injections, and physical therapy without improvement, joint replacement surgery may be your best chance for resuming your normal life.
  • Your joint pain keeps you from participating in your favorite hobbies.  If pain makes you stop doing the things you enjoy, like exercising, traveling, or other hobbies, it might be time to stop putting off joint replacement surgery.

It’s important to note that experiencing the above symptoms does not necessarily mean your doctor will clear you for joint surgery.  Whether you are a candidate for total joint replacement surgery depends on several factors that your surgeon will need to carefully assess, such as your age, bone health, bone density, and overall health.

You can schedule an appointment with one of the orthopedic surgeons from Arkansas Surgical Hospital who will examine your physical health, your medical history, and other risk factors.  These factors—such as osteoporosis, your risk of infection, and whether you smoke—help determine whether you’re a candidate for total joint replacement surgery.  Smoking has been associated with an increased chance of needing corrective surgery afterwards, while osteoporosis can make it difficult for your bones to support the replacement joint.

There is no age requirement for total joint replacement surgery.  The question to ask yourself is whether your joint pain is stopping you from participating in the activities you enjoy.  There is no need to wait until you are immobile to have joint surgery—after all, you want to maintain an active lifestyle with minimal pain at every stage of your life.

If you are ready to learn more about having joint replacement surgery, Arkansas Surgical Hospital can help.  Contact us today at (877) 918-7020 for help scheduling an appointment with one of our physician owners.  They will be able to help you determine if a new joint might be the right decision for you.

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