Knee Stress Fracture

What are knee stress fractures, and how are they treated?

Our knees play an important role in helping us accomplish everyday tasks. That being said, it’s understandable why we can become a little anxious when knee pain creeps in.  

If you are in this situation, do not despair! At OrthoNeuro, we understand how unsettling having knee pain can be. Our goal is to find the source of your pain, provide treatment, and get you on the road to recovery.

A knee stress fracture may be the source of your pain. Contact us in Columbus, OH today to get your knee pain properly diagnosed!

What Is a Knee Stress Fracture?

A knee stress fracture (also known as a hairline fracture) is an injury in which a small crack develops in your kneecap (patella). Your patella acts as a shield, protecting your knee joint.

While rare, stress fractures of the knee seem to have a higher occurrence in athletes. In other cases, though, your patella may have become weakened after having patella resurfacing surgery.

Causes of Knee Stress Fractures

Generally, stress fractures of the knee are caused by:

  • Overuse
  • Repetitive stress or force (high-impact exercises or sports)
  • Fatigue
  • Muscular weakness
  • Direct blow or fall on your knee (from a sports injury or a car accident)

Additionally, being overweight or having a medical condition such as osteoporosis, which decreases your bone density and strength, may increase your risk of having a stress fracture.

Symptoms of a Stress Fracture

The symptoms of a stress fracture can often be mild. Knowing what to look for could help you prevent further damage and find the proper methods to relieve your pain.

These stress fracture symptoms include:

  • Pain that tends to worsen in the front of your knee (anterior knee)
  • Swelling
  • “Pin-Point” Tenderness (pain when fracture spot on bone touched)
  • Bruising

How Are Knee Stress Fractures Diagnosed?

At times, a stress fracture knee may be difficult to diagnose. To diagnose a stress fracture properly, your specialist will first review your medical history, coupled with a thorough physical examination.

During your examination, your doctor will inspect your knee for abnormalities. You will also be asked to provide a detailed description of your symptoms.

Additionally, x-rays may be taken to provide detailed images and a diagnostic view of the affected leg. An MRI may also be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

If further tests are needed, your doctor may recommend a bone scan. A bone scan is an imaging technique used to detect the presence and location of a fracture.

How Are Stress Fractures Treated?

There are several different treatment options for stress fractures. Stress fractures can be treated non-surgically and surgically. However, surgical treatment is usually not required.

Depending on the degree of your stress fracture, your specialist will discuss which option best fits your needs and goals and then plan accordingly to help relieve pain.

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation
  • Modified activity levels, specifically a cessation of all activities that cause stress on your knee
  • Crutches/weight-bearing restrictions
  • Over-the-counter pain medications

Can a Stress Fracture Heal on Its Own?

It is important to note that your stress fracture could become severe without proper treatment. If the stress fracture worsens, it may become a true fracture or even a displaced fracture. Not only will your pain intensify, but surgery may then be required.

One surgical procedure used to fix displaced fractures is called internal fixation. During an internal fixation, the fracture site will be adequately exposed, and a reduction of the fracture will be completed.

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Stress Fractures?

Recovery from stress fractures takes time and may vary from person to person. With proper rest and compliance with your doctor’s orders, it may take about 6 to 8 weeks for your stress fracture to heal. Most people do not require surgery.

However, if you require surgery, please keep a few things in mind. Initially, after your surgery, there may be some weight-bearing restrictions put in place by your doctor. Also, physical therapy may be recommended to help you regain your range of motion.

Are Stress Fractures Preventable?

Yes, stress fractures can be prevented. You can reduce your risk by solely participating in low-impact activities and avoiding repetitive movements. 

One way you can prevent stress fractures is by slowly and progressively incorporating a new exercise into your regimen. Maintaining proper nutrition can also help keep your bones strong and healthy.

Additionally, many have found cross-training to be very beneficial in preventing stress fractures. These low-impact activities can help you avoid repetitive movements that can stress a particular part of your body. 

Wearing proper footwear can also reduce your chances of having a stress fracture.

It can be an unpleasant experience if you develop stress fractures in your knee. However, having someone who knows how to treat them properly can make all the difference.

At OrthoNeuro, our expert team of trained specialists is ready to help treat your stress fracture. Schedule an appointment at one of our 7 locations in the Greater Columbus area today!

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Knee Specialist Today!

If you are suffering from symptoms of a knee stress fracture, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic Knee Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you.

Knee Specialists


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