Hairline fractures or stress fractures are not easily detected or felt as compared to other types of fractures. Patients may sometimes feel tenderness at the affected area coupled with some swelling. These symptoms are further amplified during activities and will reduce with rest. Hairline fractures are actually tiny cracks in a bone resulting from overuse and are frequently observed in places where repetitive loads are encountered such as the ankle. Hairline fractures often occur during high impact sports and a few factors can influence it such as the duration of exercise, frequency of exercise as well as the intensity of it. However, patients who do not participate in sports can also experience hairline fractures due to weak bones in their body. Bone diseases or osteoporosis causes a loss in bone density and places one to be more susceptible to stress fractures. In this article, we will further explore some symptoms of a hairline fracture.
Pain develops gradually in patients suffering from stress fractures. As mentioned above, the pain is only present during instances of weight bearing and will go away at rest. It is different from an ankle sprain whereby pain is present throughout. In some patients with higher pain tolerances, they may not be able to feel this pain as the endorphins produced during activities can mask it, misleading the patients and result in more serious consequences.
During injuries, our body’s immune system will kick in. Chemical signals are released by the brain to widen capillaries which will result in increased blood flow to the injured area. The white blood cells will then fight against any infection present. This increase in fluid causes swelling which is visible on the outside and can be relieved through the use of ice packs or anti-inflammatory medication.
Reduced pain when at rest
Another common symptom is the immediate reduction of pain experienced when at rest. This would mean that the injury sustained is not involving any muscle groups nor is it a major fracture. Patients suffering from hairline fractures will get immediate relief when they stop whatever activities they are doing.
Constant pain after continuous trauma
When patients ignore the advices of doctors to rest and choose to continue playing, their condition can worsen and there is a high risk that the stress fracture has already evolved into a complete fracture. Pain can be felt throughout even when the patient is at rest.
It only takes about 6 to 8 weeks for a hairline fracture to heal whereas a complete fracture takes around 6 months to heal. It is up to you whether you wish to sacrifice at most 2 months of your time to heal it completely or risk being out of the sport forever.