Stress fractures are an overuse injury that can affect any level athlete. When a bone doesn’t have an opportunity to recover from stress applied to it, a fracture occurs. The most common fracture locations are between the foot and lower leg. In normal bone, stress fractures are often caused by significant increases in training without adequate rest time, and can strike the professional or novice athlete. They can also be caused by improper footwear for the activity, biomechanical problems with running gait or foot and knee alignment.
Osteoporosis, poor nutrition or hormonal disorders can weaken bones and make them susceptible to stress fractures in normal training situations.
Stress fractures typically present as pain related to the activity causing the bone stress. The pain is usually highly localized, unlike general muscle aches. Rest for the affected foot is very important for the recovery of a stress fracture. It’s important to listen to the body and avoid activities that cause pain such as walking or running, but the patient can engage in other non-weight-bearing activities such as swimming or yoga to stay in shape while healing.
Acupuncture is an excellent treatment for stress fractures because of its ability to send healing energy and blood flow to the fracture. This allows the fracture to heal much faster than with rest alone. There are Chinese herbal formulas that are specifically formulated for the regeneration of bone cells: these herbs in combination with acupuncture are extremely effective for stress fracture recovery.