Dealing with a Summer Stress Fracture: How Chiropractic Care Can Help

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Stress fractures are among the most common overuse injuries for runners, hikers, and walkers. If one of these outdoor activities is your passion, it can be especially easy to overdo it in the summer months, when the weather is good and you have extra time to spend out on the trail. As an athlete, there’s nothing that creates a pit in your stomach more than that ache in your leg (or another part of your body) that signals the potential onset of a stress fracture. For runners, the most common place to get a stress fracture is in your shin bone (tibia), but it’s also pretty common to get a stress fracture in the bones behind your toes (the metatarsals). Other possible stress fracture sites include your femur, fibula, and sacrum. No matter where you get a stress fracture, it’s always a bummer because you have no choice but to spend the rest of your summer–that is, at least four to six weeks–doing non-impact exercise.


If you’ve ever had a stress fracture in the past, you’ve probably relied on a medical doctor for treatment. This time, you might want to consider the potential benefits of chiropractic care. Most people associate chiropractic care with the treatment of existing, long-term neck and back pain–rather than acute, workout-related injuries like stress fractures–but chiropractors can actually help with a stress fracture at every stage of the cycle: from the initial diagnosis to the seemingly-never-ending recovery period to the long-term management and prevention stage when you’re back in good health. Read on to learn more about the diverse ways that a chiropractor can help you heal from a stress fracture this summer and come back even stronger in the fall!


Diagnosing a Stress Fracture: The Benefits of Computed Radiotomography (CR)


When you go to the doctor’s office complaining of the symptoms of a stress fracture, the odds are good that you’ll get a referral for a standard x-ray to check to see if the fracture is visible on your bone. However, as technology has advanced, there are new methods for diagnosing bony injuries like stress fractures. For instance, many chiropractors now use an advanced type of digital x-ray called computed radiotomography (CR). Studies suggest that the detection rate for bony injuries like stress fractures is just as good (and sometimes even better) when CR is used instead of a traditional x-ray machine. Plus, CR exposes you to fifty percent less radiation–which is especially desirable if you’re a longtime athlete and have had to get a lot of x-rays in the past to confirm or deny possible stress fractures in the past.


The Role of a Chiropractor During the Rest and Recovery Period


Unfortunately, with a stress fracture, the key remedy is rest. If you want it to heal, you simply can’t run, hike, or walk on it–usually for about four to six weeks. However, there are also other means of supporting healthy, long-term healing that lasts during the recovery period, and a chiropractor can play an important role optimize your healing process. Here are a few reasons why you may want to have a chiropractor in your court while you’re recovering from a stress fracture.

  • It’s easy for your spine to get misaligned if you’re on crutches, wearing a boot, limping from the pain of a stress fracture, or getting used to unfamiliar non-impact exercise like swimming or indoor cycling. This misalignment often leads to additional pain (beyond what you’re feeling from your stress fracture), which can make your summer even worse. With a regular chiropractic adjustment, you can keep your spine in relatively good alignment throughout your recovery periods.
  • When you get a stress fracture, it can be a major challenge to figure out what to eat. Now that you’re no longer able to run, walk, or hike, you might start to worry about eating too much and thwarting your fitness and/or weight loss goals. At the same time, you also want to make sure that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to heal from the stress fracture and that you still have enough energy for the non-impact cross training you’re doing to maintain your fitness. When you’re facing this uncertainty, you can trust a nutritional counselor like a chiropractor to help you adjust your eating habits in a way that keeps you full, boosts your energy, and ensures that you’ll be able to come back from the stress fracture as strong as ever.   


Preventing Stress Fractures in the Fall–And Beyond

Even after your stress fracture heals, a chiropractor can still help you avoid stress fractures in the future. Many people do not realize it, but a regular chiropractic adjustment isn’t just beneficial for people in pain. Keeping your spine in alignment actually offers a wide range of health-related benefits, including a boost to your immune system, better respiratory circulation, improved flexibility (always a plus for the athletically inclined!), and relief from the everyday aches and pains that so often go along with your running, hiking, or walking routine.


Your chiropractor can also help you make a nutrition plan that is optimized for long-term bone strength. As a nutritional advisor, a chiropractor can help analyze your diet for deficits that might have contributed to your stress fracture (or make you more prone to one in the future). From there, you can work together to create a nutrition plan that fits in with your active lifestyle while also ensuring you’re getting the key vitamins and minerals that support bone health, like calcium and vitamin D.

Looking for a great chiropractor who is committed to supporting your health? Get in touch with Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness today!

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