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Answer to your Health Question

Question :

I am 15 years old and was told 4 weeks ago that I have a minor stress fracture on my L5 vertebrae.

The doctor said I could join back on my hockey team by the beginning of February.

Is that true?

Also does walking and sitting upright in chair damage the stress fracture?



Dear Nibop,

The majority of stress fractures in the "L" vertebrae do not heal bone to bone. Instead they heal with cartilage tissue which often does not show clearly on xrays or even CT scans.

Many sports med people do not understand the stress fracture injury either despite the fact that it is becoming more and more common.

Rest is the only option for complete healing of a stress fracture. The amount of recovery time varies greatly depending upon the location, severity, the strength of the body's healing response and an individual's nutritional intake.

Complete rest and a cast or walking boot are usually used for a period of four to eight weeks, although periods of rest of twelve to sixteen weeks is not uncommon for more severe stress fractures.

Bracing or casting the limb with a hard plastic boot or air cast may also prove beneficial by taking some stress off the stress fracture.

Over time, incorrect sitting posture can damage spinal structures.

Avoid prolonged walking, standing, sitting, or driving.

Based on a study of Standaert CJ and Herring SA, published in 2000, spondylolysis ( stress fracture ) is typically aggravated by upright postures such as standing and walking as well as active movement involving lumbar spine extension.

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