A fracture is a broken or cracked bone. This will normally be caused by a traumatic event, such as a fall, or sporting injury. There are many types and classifications of fractures and their treatment will depend on the location and severity. Fractures will normally be diagnosed by X-ray. Some fractures will heal with rest and immobilisation, such as with plaster or a brace. Some fractures require Orthopaedic input to assist correct healing, such as a manipulation under anaesthetic, or surgical fixation.
A stress fracture is a small fracture in the bone caused by repetitive trauma. Although small, they are very serious and should not be ignored. Stress fractures normally occur in sports people, although can be caused by anything which repetitively overloads the bone. Stress fractures normally require a scan for diagnosis, and, like most fractures, management requires a period of rest and immobilisation.
The time it takes for the bone to heal will vary according to the type of fracture and its location. Healing time can vary from a few weeks to many months. Age may also have an influence – children tend to heal more quickly than older people (though older people will most often still heal well). Smoking has been shown to delay the healing of fractures.
Once the fracture is healed, physiotherapy is important to address any residual joint stiffness, swelling, muscle weakness or wasting. Treatment may consist of a combination of hands-on treatment, exercises and advice tailored specifically to your individual needs in order to rehabilitate you back to you former level of fitness / ability.