There have been a few posts lately about possible stress fracture vs. "other" injury. There are a few easy ways to tell the difference without expensive tests. I'm not a big fan of x-rays for possible stress fracture injuries (usually doesn't show up well for early stress fracture since angle of the x-ray beam needs to closely line up with the angle of injury), and only if needed I'll send my patients out for MRI (ie - expensive test which I try to stay away from). When in doubt, I'll assume stress fracture.
Hop Test - hopping on your leg and landing on heel - will cause pain at the area of stress fracture. Don't do this if pain is in the hip!
Tap Test - similar to hop test, but someone taps the heel or bone (at an area above or below the pain site) using the heel of their hand. You can do this one by tapping femur just above the knee if pain is in the hip.
Vibration Tests - if you have a vibrator or massager, vibrate an area above or below the pain and see if it causes pain at the original pain location. I had a creative patient put his heel on the washing machine during the spin cycle and he felt the shock like pain at the fracture site.
Stress fracture almost never improve during a run. The pain will slowly increase and last from several hours to days after the run.
Many soft tissue injuries will feel better as the run progresses (increased blood flow) and then might bother you a few hours after the run.
Deep Palpation - may feel a knot or bump at only 1 pain site (usually not pain over a general area).
Stress fractures may be a sign of bone density issues, so talk to your doctor about a bone density test to rule out any underlying issues that need to be co-managed.
Sorry, but stress fractures will only heal with rest!
Hope this helps.
Thanks AT! just so happens I will be doing some laundry...I'm going g to do the vibration test. Many years ago I had natural tibial stress fractures... it seemed forever for them to heal.
Thanks for the info, AT, and you didn't even charge us a consulting fee.
Thanks! I already went to a Podatrist to check my foot out, and he did the tap test to confirm it was a soft tissue issue. After that I got a great lesson in arch-support taping from a PT. (I also got insoles that almost screwed my other foot up before I tossed them out).
This was a great guy who didn't even raise an eyebrow when I told him my issue was foot soreness when I run more than six hours :-)
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