Diagnosis of a Stress Fracture:
In analysing your injury, your therapist or doctor may be able to diagnose your injury strictly on the basis of a physical exam. The therapist will assess the injured area, comparing it to the uninjured leg or knee. He or she will evaluate visible signs of injury such as tender skin, swelling, and differences in joint mobility or appearance.
They should also look at the rest of the body, especially the trunk, spine, and pelvis, looking for weaknesses or asymmetries that may have led to the injury occurring. Correctly identifying any contributing factors early will help in devising the most correct, and effective rehab program to help ensure that the injury does not reoccur.
Often people ask whether they should have an X-ray to check for stress fractures. Because they are rarely ‘displaced’ (when the bone has shifted its position), or appear all of the way through the bone (this can happen in very severe cases) Stress Fractures cannot initially be seen on regular x-rays. In addition, many people think that if their x-ray is ‘clear’ then they are fine, however, this is not necessarily the case.
Sometimes the doctor or therapist may request a bone scan, an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), or CT (Computed Tomography) scans to confirm the diagnosis, however, these are often not needed.
IMPORTANT! Correctly diagnosing a stress fracture is very important to ensure that you get the correct treatment. Many different injuries can give pain in similar areas, so this step is extremely important.