Stress Fractures in Nurses
What is a stress fracture? Basically, these are minute breaks on the bones of our feet and they are caused by repetitive motion and overuse. Most common activities that lead to stress fractures are running by athletes and marching among military personnel, while carrying heavy packs over long distance. But even nurses can also suffer from this kind of fracture. It may not be evident right away but it will happen eventually especially if your shifts are long (12 hours at least) and has been in the profession for years.
The foot pain is usually bearable and intermittent in the beginning, then it gradually gets worse even when resting and your feet are elevated. Xrays may not pick up these fractures since they are very tiny but a bone scan of the feet or a MRI will give a definitive diagnosis of stress fractures.
Risk factors include:
· Increased activities after a sedentary lifestyle. Mostly seen on high impact sports activities. But walking or running for 12 hours in the hospital may also set a perfect scenario to have stress fractures
· Sex – Women tend to develop this type of fracture, especially after menopause or when osteoporosis sets it.
· Abnormal foot anatomy – those who have high arches or flat footed are more susceptible
· Malnutrition – lack of calcium and phosphorus in your body can make bones to be weak
· History of previous stress fractures
What to do avoid stress fractures:
· Proper nutrition – be sure to include Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus in your daily diet
· Use proper foot wear - make it sure that you have ample cushion on your shoes when your work demands prolonged standing for long hours
· Regular exercise – try to do free or low impact activities such as swimming or using elliptical machines that will not require placing pressure on your feet while exercising
· Rest and elevate your feet regularly
Unfortunately, some stress fractures may need surgery or wearing a cast to correct or fix the problem. The best option for us nurses is to avoid it at all cost. Remember, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of treatment!!!