Slooooooooooooow healing stress fractures

I'm blue and need some positive stories from people who have come back from injury but taken a long time to do so.

To re-cap, I had a stress fracture in my femoral neck last April. Stupidly pushed through thinking it was a tight muscle and ended up completely incapacitating myself. i.e. immobile followed by 11 weeks on crutches. I've been slowly building up again; spent the summer walking until I could do a few miles pain free, then began a run-walk schedule in the autumn and can now run consistently, but not very much. I'm in definite discomfort the day after any run over about 7 miles and taking my weekly mileage above about 20 miles a week seems to cause problems.

I can't quite understand why it's taking so long. Maybe I was naive but I thought I'd be back to normal by now. I'm getting really blue reading about people who've only needed a couple of months off with SFs and come back stronger than ever. I've finally bitten the bullet and joined a gym as I've accepted that I can't run my way out of my current unfit, podgy slump. But I need to know there is light at the end of the tunnel. What is "normal" in terms of worst case scenario for healing a SF?


  • Sorry Weeble, I've got no useful advice but best of luck and try not to feel down as hard as that might be. I'm sure it will be fine but often these things take longer than we want.

  • I had a stress fracture in my foot 12 months ago. I did it about November time, but didn't sort it out and it was only diagnosed in feburary! It took ages (months and months) to heal fully because I just didn't rest enough until I was on crutches. It was an awful time for me, so I do sympathise on that front. 

    But slowly, it got better, when I finally rested. I feared at one point I would never run again but 12 months on I'm running faster than ever and training for a marathon. 

    I don't know what is normal really for a recovery, as we're all different. I know for me I didn't help myself, not just with not resting, but my nutrition was poor too! I noticed a significant improvement when I ate more protein for example. Maybe that's something that could help? I take a lot of supplements now too, which may or may not help I have no idea.

    But try not to get too dispondent, hang on in there, and make sure you're resting up enough. I'm sure you'll get there! image 


  • Bah patience is the worst prescription ever. image

    Sianz I have actually started eating more protein (started eating meat again after doing it) so hopefully that will help, and I'm still taking calcium and vit D supplements. I find it helpful to be doing something, even if it's really time that's in order.

  • There are a few things you could consider:


    First of all, your age. The older you are, the slower your body tends to repair and recover. Once you hit 30/35 muscles start to naturally decline but at a fairly slow pace, once your over 50 things then start to speed up a bit and your more likely to notice differences. You didn't mention your age but it could be something to consider if you are closer to 50 then 20.


    Nutrition plays a part, your body would require sound nutrition to recover at an optimal speed, muscles require protein for example and you may want to add more protein spread out over your day (don't gobble it all at once, it has a better effect if you spread it out) bones require calcium AND vitamin D. Vitamin D comes from some oily foods such as nuts, mackeral and also from sunlight: something we don't get enough of in the winter months. Most tend to get their fill of sun-driven vitamin D in the summer and then end up in a deficit by the time we get to the following summer. You can take vitamin D via pill form but make sure its Vitamin D3 as that is the type which your body requires in order for your body to absorb the calcium in your food, you may need to swallow enough and then a little bit more to make up the extra required to build up any fractures.


    Rest: sleep enough, take enough rest days. When you rest, this is when your body does the repair work. If it doesn't get enough time to rest, it doesn't repair fully and any repair work it can do is very easily broken down again.


    Circulation: this you need to feed the nutrients to the damaged areas and also carry away any damage and waste created by your body trying to repair itself. Massage, foam rollers and non/low impact exercise such as cycling, yoga and swimming can help boost your circulation, laying flat in a bed wont help your circulation (running would be high impact so would risk unpicking all the reapir your body may have done).


    And finally water (or fluids) also are essential, drink enough every day and make sure enough of it is unadultarated water. Anything else you add to water that shouldn't be there tends to have toxins in, weather its tannins from tea/coffee or sugar/fake sugar from fizzy drinks, fresh juice and squashes. if you give your body too much work to do it may well opt to put your fracture to the end of the list: your bodies liver tends to work on processing one toxin at a time (for the same reason your better off not drinking way too much alcohol to ease your pain, physical or otherwise!)


    Other then that, reduce your stress levels by socialising with friends, good mood hormones also help boost immunity and repair!

  • I'm 28 so that should be just about in my favour still. Apart from that the only "bad" things I do are caffeine and alcohol. I did give up booze completely at first as I'd read it retards bone growth, but that didn't last beyond the first couple of months.

    I think I'm going to focus on trying to regain as much fitness as I can via cross training and hope that at least compensates somehow.

  • With the stress fractures, what are everyones symptoms? I ran in the Frankfurt marathon last October and I am still in pain, physio reckons I have tibial tendonosis...but I am sceptical on this, symptoms include:

    Sore to touch in one place on the tibia bone
    Also have aches along the tendon from below the knee to the foot.
    About a month ago, I was getting very strange heat sensations in the foot.
    Also had pins and needles in the foot.

    I do not have any pain whilst walking although I know it is still there, hardly any pain whilst running but when I rest it is painful and very achy. Have tried all the usual stretches the physio gives out and have also had 8 weeks total rest over the christmas period, it just does not seem to be shifting image any ideas? 

  • I am not by any means the expert on stress fractures, but I have had one and can explain what my symptoms were.


    My leg seemed to be affected after doing donkey kicks (you may wanna google this!) to this day I have no idea why but this is when it happened so I imagined it was a pulled muscle but just hurt in one specific spot- it was a similar sort of ache.


    It got worse when I moved my foot to point my toes, or to walk on, or to jump on, or to hop would sort of "pang" with pain on each form of impact -ie when my foot hit the floor or when I got to the end of my toe pointing. Running of course hurt but as much as cycling or just about any other exercise where the muscles in my calf was used.

    To explain that, you need to think about how the muscles inside your body all fit together with the rest of the organs and things in your body, when it comes to bones, your muscles are connected with lots of little ties, your bones are covered with a thin sort of covering called facia and when you get a stress fracture, this facia is affected and the muscles which are connected on top are also affected, this moving your muscles can hurt due to the fracture- if that seems a bit confusing, Wikipedia normally has a decent enough description! Am not a scientist so will not profess to be.


    It hurt to touch, it hurt to massage and ice did not stop ir hurting- nothing seemed to reach it when massaging- I could easily make it worse by pressing on it, but in terms of stretching it better or massaging it better, nothing had any effect.

  • And if it's any help (my recovery)...


    I took a sports massage, as I didn't have a diagnosis (first Physio decided that without a proper scan, I was just making a fuss over nothing and needed to hop and carry on hopping to get used to the pain). The spots massage person said I had to stop running. I had been told to carry on by the physio but took the advice (which was not easy to understand because cycling and using a cross trainer hurt just as much as running but I did stop).

    6 months later it had stopped hurting and I was able to run again- all be it on a treadmill. Then I changed my running, went outside and it came back pretty mushc straight away. I was gutted. I then managed to fall and sprain my ankle....

     Luckily I was seeing a private physio for the new leg pain- having taken the advice of the sports massage student I'd seen who told me if it came back, to see a GP and get proper help- I had luckily been referred to a private physio and I was very amazed at how good the care was. I was able to see someone 4 times and each time had new strapping applied- properly wrapped do-not-remove type strapping. It really did help. I have learnt why and sadly could not repeat the same results when I tried myself but I really feel of all the things I tried, rest and strapping made the greatest difference.

    Rehabilitation exercises also made a different- special exercises to train the muscles which were weaker and meant other muscles had to take over and so became over-worked, leaning to the bones underneath being less protected when I had worked things too hard (makes the origin make sense I suppose) and was told to not run again. I stopped for a total of 6 months (I'd been told 8 months by the orthopedic Doctor I was later referred to- bare in mind I had this pain for over 2 years at that point). I also took up a new style of running where I landed on my forefoot or mid foot rather then my heel thus reducing the impact, reducing the level of work certain muscles were having to do and the pain has not since come back- it'll be 2 years ago in April.

  • Weeble -I had a stress fracture of my femur last jan and it is now finally better. The bigger bones take longer to heal than the small ones ie foot etc so persevere but don't over do it. The bad news is I seem to have developed same thing on the other leg in the last week and am a very unhappy bunny. Had managed to get back to marathon training and was on target for one in Mid march so it's not great news. So my question is why so prone to problems, having taken training steadily with plenty of rest etc?

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