A tibial stress fracture is a condition where there is an incomplete crack found in the lower leg bone or shin bone. When engaging in weight bearing activities such as running, severe force is placed on the tibia and several muscles that are connected to the tibia. When they contract, a pulling force is being exerted on the bone. Forces that are excessive, repetitive and beyond the capacity of the bone can gradually cause damage. With continued damage, it can result to a tibial stress fracture. Stress fractures require proper treatment in order to avoid further damage.
Causes of tibial stress fractures
- Running long distance that causes fatigue in the muscle as well as puts stress to the bone and cause a fracture.
- Excessive weight-bearing on the bone caused by continuous contraction of the muscles such as in running.
- Changes in the training regime such as running on uneven surfaces after running on even surfaces such as road or grass.
- Repetitive stress or impact that is subjected to the bone can result to a fracture.
- Other causes such as bad foot posture, strenuous training, poor biomechanics, stiffness of the joints, ill-fitting footwear, weakness or fatigue, unequal length of the legs, irregularity of menstruation and obesity
- Poor eating habits
- Individuals who have flat feet and high arches face a higher risk of developing stress fractures in the shin bone.
Symptoms of a tibial stress fracture
An individual suspected with a tibial stress fracture usually have the following signs and symptoms.
- Severe pain that becomes worse when engaging in activities and minimized when resting.
- Pain can be felt in the outer area of the lower third tibia
- The affected area is swollen
- There is difficulty in walking along with pain
- The individual experiences pain during night time and while at rest
- Pain can be felt when pressure is applied to the shin.
Treatment and home remedies for a tibial stress fracture
- Encourage individual to rest for at least 8 weeks. Avoid engaging in any weight-bearing exercises such as running. Running in water with a buoyancy aid or belt can be done instead of running in the road.
- Apply an ice pack for 10 minutes at a time in order to minimize swelling and pain for 3-4 times every day.
- If the cause of the fracture is caused by changes in training, these activities should be avoided in the future.
- Using crutches can help avoid full weight bearing.
- Massage the affected area.
- Gradually return to training and sports.
- Perform exercises that maintains strength and flexibility in the lower leg such as light calf raises if there is no pain felt and also perform exercises in the wobble balance board
- Use appropriate footwear for any activity engaged in.
- Maintain proper nutrition in order to keep the bones strong as well as eat foods rich in calcium and other nutrients.