23 March 2016
A common question we often get asked at injury clinic is ‘what exactly is a ‘stress reaction’ in comparison to a stress fracture?
And what does this mean in terms of getting back to your sport?’
Stress reactions are fatigue failure injuries of the bone, which if not managed correctly can develop into stress fractures.
Normally the integrity of bones is managed through an ongoing process of fatigue-induced damage, followed by remodeling. High levels of bone stress (due to increased training loads, altered bio-mechanics, poor footwear etc.) may lead to higher levels of fatigue damage where the remodeling response may not be able to cope. This then presents clinically as a bone stress injury, with the presence of micro-fractures and bone marrow oedema (a ‘stress reaction’). In most cases, the bone responds to this stress reaction by forming new bone for reinforcement. However if physical activity is continued, and high levels of stress are continually placed through the bone, this stress reaction may eventually lead to a complete cortical break (a stress fracture).
Bone stress injuries require avoiding the precipitating activity, allowing the bone adequate rest time to heal and remodel. A progressive and graded return to sport or physical activity is crucial to avoid further stress-related damage to occur.
For more information, or if you suspect you may have acquired a bone stress injury, speak with your coach, the rehab team at school or contact Back in Motion Braybrook on 9687 2700 for a free initial assessment from one of our experienced physiotherapists!
Article written by Chris Bryceson, Physiotherapist
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