A hairline fracture is a tiny crack in a bone. Unlike stable fractures and compound fractures, a hairline fracture doesn’t go all the way through the bone, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less serious.
Hairline fractures are painful, and pain often gets worse over time. They can take about eight weeks to fully heal, and if you wait for the fracture to heal on its own, you could risk the bone breaking the whole way through.
Kristopher Downing, MD, & James Andry, MD are orthopedic trauma physicians at Upper Extremity Specialists, a part of Ortho 1 Medical Group. They provide comprehensive care for hairline fractures, so you can heal faster and get back to your life with less pain.
Recognizing the symptoms of a hairline fracture
Hairline fractures are often the result of overuse. Repetitive stress on a bone can crack or bruise it over time. These injuries are also called stress fractures for this reason.
Sometimes, a traumatic impact, such as from a car accident, can cause hairline fractures, too. Osteoporosis and other bone diseases can make bones prone to breaking and increase your risk of developing hairline fractures with everyday activities.
The bones of your feet and ankles are most at risk of developing hairline fracture, particularly if you participate in high-impact sports, such as running or gymnastics. However, fractures can develop on any bone, including the bones of your hands, arms, and shoulders.
The most noticeable symptom of a hairline fracture is pain. The pain is usually worse when you’re active and better when you rest.
The longer you continue using the affected area, the worse your pain may be. Other symptoms can include visible bruising, swelling, and tenderness when you touch the area.
What to do if you have a hairline fracture
If you suspect you have a hairline fracture, stop your activity. Take weight off the affected area, and make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist for professional care as soon as possible.
Don’t try to ignore the pain or diagnose your injury on your own. Dr. Downing and our team offer advanced diagnostic services to identify the severity of your fracture and recommend the best treatment.
Minor hairline fractures can usually heal fully with at-home care. Dr. Downing may recommend rest, ice therapy, compression, and elevation to help with healing and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help relieve discomfort.
If your fracture is more severe, you might need to wear a sling or cast for a period of time. Sometimes, hairline fractures require surgery to strengthen the bone and prevent complications.
Waiting for your hairline fracture to heal on its own could prolong your pain. Get the care you need by booking an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today. We have offices in Chula Vista and La Jolla, California at Upper Extremity Specialists in Chula Vista and La Jolla, California. Call us or request an appointment online now.