It can start as tolerable pain that only comes after physical activity. Over time, the pain increases, invades your exercise routine, and may even reach a point where walking is painful, the injury site sore to touch.
Ahhh, the fibula stress fracture—that creeping stress injury that runners especially know and “love.”
WHAT CAUSES FIBULA STRESS FRACTURES?
There are various causes of fibula stress fractures. Though it might seem counterintuitive, it’s often when tendons are too strong that a fibula stress fracture occurs. Repeated load on the bone can also damage. This damage can cause imbalances, which in turn weaken part of the bone, leaving it susceptible to fracture. Both scenarios are common in distance athletes like runners, cyclists, and weight lifters, whose tendons and muscles become so strong that they pull on the bone and cause injury.
HOW UNLOADING CAN HELP
After suffering a fibula stress fracture, most people are advised by physicians to limit load on the fractured fibula, especially early on. Once the leg is strong enough to begin physical therapy, the athlete will only be able to walk or run at a fraction of their total body-weight load.
This is where unloading can be particularly useful. Unweighting technology, such as the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill®, allow physical therapists to precisely identify the percentage of body-weight load that the patient can safely tolerate. The PT can also monitor pain and examine gait imbalances, all while eliminating fall risk completely.
UNWEIGHTING FOR FIBULA FRACTURE — A CASE STUDY
There’s really no age, gender, or walk-of-life prerequisite for these types of injuries. Even young, seemingly invincible runners can suffer fibula stress fractures. Check out this story of a cross country runner who used AlterG to recover from a similar stress fracture. The story is a great example of the way unweighting can be applied in clinical settings. It’s also the story of a remarkable feat of athleticism and conditioning: this young man was averaging 55 miles a week!