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Knee PainEveryone experiences occasional pain in their knee(s). But there are some symptoms that you just shouldn’t ignore. These can point to larger problems in your knee, like a stress fracture. Even though stress fractures are not as serious or painful as a broken bone, they should not be ignored. If left untreated, they can lead to tiny cracks that transform into more serious issues. If you are experiencing knee pain, you should be aware of certain sensations that might point to something worse that needs attention.


The Most Common Knee Stress Fracture Symptoms

A stress fracture is a minuscule crack in the bone that is caused by repetitive use or trauma. Commonly seen in athletes, stress fractures occur over time and are often in the shins, foot, heel, and knee. Because the crack is so small, pain from a stress fracture tends to be less severe than broken bone pain and the problem is sometimes harder to diagnose.

Stress fractures that occur in the knee are normally harder to diagnose than a stress fracture in the tibia or foot. The most common knee stress fracture symptoms include:

  • Pain and swelling in your knee
  • A “pinpoint pain” when touching your knee bone
  • Dull pain that gets worse during activity and goes away with rest
  • Pain that occurs whether you are resting, doing normal activities, or walking
  • An inability to put weight on one leg
  • Bruising around the knee

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have a knee stress fracture and should contact an orthopedic knee specialist at OrthoConnecticut as soon as possible.

Causes of Knee Fractures

Knee fractures are not common and are usually caused by direct impact to the kneecap. This can happen from a car accident, a hard fall, or a sports injury. If you suffer from osteoporosis or a bone infection you may be at higher risk of a knee fracture from seemingly minor injuries.
Stress fractures in the knee are more common among long-distance athletes like runners. The repetitive movement causes trauma to the bones that make up the knee structure. Other risk factors for knee stress fractures include obesity, poor diet, low vitamin D levels, ill-fitting or worn-out footwear, and poor technique when doing physical activity.

Diagnosing a Stress Fracture of the Knee

Diagnosing a stress fracture in the knee can be more difficult than diagnosing other types of stress fractures. Because all pain may not be localized to the knee and you may not know you have a stress fracture, physicians may first look at other bones for signs of a stress fracture. Diagnosis of a knee stress fracture is done through a physical exam and analysis of medical history. Ultimately, whether or not there is a stress fracture will be revealed through an X-ray, MRI , or bone scan.

Treatment for Knee Stress Fractures

Because of the small size of stress fractures, surgery is not a common method of treatment. Instead, most physicians will recommend rest and a mechanism for bone and joint support. Treatment for knee stress fractures may involve a knee brace or sleeve that supports your knee for limited walking.
While you can address the pain caused by a knee stress fracture by taking some sort of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), the only way to treat a stress fracture is with rest and patience. Methods of treatment involve:

  • Resting for several weeks
  • Icing the knee
  • Eliminating whatever activity causes pain
  • Doing non-impact exercise, if your doctor approves
  • Elevating your leg to reduce swelling
  • Switch out your footwear to something with a more rigid sole that provides more support
  • Using crutches to keep weight off of your injured knee

While these are just some of the methods to treat a knee stress fracture, you should consult your physician at OrthoConnecticut before adopting a treatment plan.

Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms!

The danger of ignoring symptoms of a knee stress fracture can lead to serious complications that might affect you for the rest of your life. If you’ve got a nagging sensation or feeling that your pain might be something more, call your doctor right away. The cost of not calling may be much greater than the trouble of getting an expert opinion by a qualified orthopedic surgeon.

Related Resources:

Knee Fracture

Patella Fracture

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