Speed Up Fracture Healing

Hairline Fracture Treatment | Hairline Bone Fracture Surgery | Symptoms, Healing and Recovery Time

24 Jul


Hairline fractures, also called as stress fractures, are now slowly becoming an infamous dilemma in the area of sports medicine. Caused by application of repetitive strain and excessive training, hairline fractures are minute cracks on the bones, which can become severe if not immediately treated. Basically, this injury is caused by the depressed response of the bone with the ground-reaction forces that are applied to the bones during activities like jumping, running, or walking. Despite that bones have the ability to bend a little if stress and strain is applied to them, they can also develop small cracks once they are being overused.

Types of hairline fractures

• Fatigue fracture. This is caused by too much application of torque or abnormal stress on the bone that has only an average elastic resistance. This can also happen to individuals who do strenuous activities without proper warm-ups.
• Insufficiency fractures. These are caused by the application of stress to the bones during normal muscular activities. People who have this type of hairline fractures are those who are in their post-menopausal stage and have low bone elasticity resistance.

For a hairline fracture to be diagnosed, a thorough review of the medical history of the patient and a physical exam must be done to assess the mechanism and extent of the injury. These procedures will be followed by an x-ray. Athletes who are suspected of having hairline fractures are often requested to undergo more than one x-ray because the small cracks may not be easily detected at first try.

After a period of two to three weeks when there is still more pain, another x-ray should be conducted to see if there are any visible cracks. If the x-ray showed a thin hairline crack together with abnormal thickening of the bone, chances are high that the person indeed has a hairline fracture. Sometimes doctors also ask for a bone scan or an MRI because these methods can immediately see hairline injuries even after a couple of days the pain was felt. However, both of these tests are expensive and are only requested in urgent situations.

Hairline Fracture Causes

There are two main theories with regard to the cause of stress fractures. The first one is the ‘fatigue theory,’ which concludes that strenuous activities such as running strains the muscles surrounding the bones and the pressure is not properly absorbed and handled by the muscles. As a result, the shock is received by the bone thus causing the hairline cracks. The second theory concludes that a hairline fracture is caused by periostitis. This is a condition wherein the connective tissues surrounding the bone experiences inflammation. If left untreated, periostitis can infect the bone and a hairline fracture can develop.


• Pain when the affected area is put at rest
• Pain experienced during increased stress from an activity
• Diffused pain
• Tenderness on the area affected
• Swelling

Hairline Fracture Treatment

The main treatment for hairline fractures is refraining from doing activities that can aggravate the injury for approximately one month and half. Once the bone has been healed of its minute cracks, the person can start resuming his normal activities gradually. In cases when extreme pain is experienced, the affected area must be put at rest and must be immobilized by casting or bracing. Shoe inserts like supportive orthotics and walking crutches can also be recommended but only when the patient’s normal movements are already affected.

Use of analgesics is also prescribed when the pain is unbearable. People who have hairline fractures can better visit physical therapists so that they could be advised with strengthening exercises that are non-weight bearing like swimming. Fortunately, hairline fractures rarely need surgery because they can be easily mended with just two weeks of rest. However, the injury can still worsen if the fractures are not given appropriate medical attention.


Having some stretching and muscle strengthening exercises are good prevention techniques to prevent hairline fracture because these help improve bone strength and flexibility. Consuming balanced and nutritious foods are also beneficial because these can provide the bones with the needed calcium and vitamins and strengthen bone structure. For athletes, they must do warm-ups before doing any strenuous activity so that their bones will not be forced or stressed. They should also practice gradual use of their bones until their bones are properly healed and they must use proper sports gear and equipment once they play their sports again.

When to Call a Doctor

Since stress fractures are not easy to detect, when a person who does strenuous activities feels pain and tenderness, he should consult his doctor for complete diagnosis. Though hairline fractures are very easy to treat, they can still lead to more serious fractures when left untreated.

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