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The quick answer is that hairline fractures, also called stress fractures, are tiny cracks in the bone. They usually develop gradually as a result of overuse, as opposed to regular fractures that are usually caused by a trauma. While Hairline fractures will usually heal with sufficient rest, they can be painful and last 4 to 6 weeks.
Hairline fractures are often associated with overuse and are most common in the lower extremities. They are less common in the arm, but they may occur and are more likely to be the result of a fall rather than overuse. To learn more about stress fractures, go to Stress Fractures and to hairline fractures of the wrist.
Bones are rigid but have a degree of elasticity that allows them to react to specific movements. When strain is continuously placed on a bone over time, microscopic cracks can develop –this is usually how a Hairline fracture occurs. Hairline fractures of the arm or lower extremity can be hard to notice, but a dull pain continues to persist over time. Symptoms may mimic a sprained elbow but you should consult with an MD.
A doctor will perform an examination first and assess the person’s reaction to pressure placed over the painful area or where the hairline fracture of the arm is suspected. Localized Pain in response to pressure is often key in helping your doctor to make a diagnosis.
If you suspect a hairline fracture, the following are first aid treatments that can be performed prior to seeing a doctor:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as acetaminophen can also help with pain.
You may be issued a brace to use if the doctor feels it is necessary. The brace will aid in the prevention of further injury to the arm.
Yes but you should still refrain from doing activities or exercises that can aggravate the injury. The fracture region is already very weak and further use can cause the fracture to worsen. Once the bone has healed the person can start resuming normal activities gradually.
Although a hairline fracture may not be a serious as many other types of fractures, it still poses a big risk to the person. Always remember to get plenty of rest and consume foods that are high in calcium, essential minerals and protein.
It usually takes up to six to eight weeks to completely heal from a hairline fracture. However, Ignoring symptoms from a hairline fracture can lead to a more serious fracture and can be more difficult to treat or result in a non-union fracture. This could increase the time it takes to heal.
Hairline Fracture In Elbow
One of the most common hairline fractures occurs in the elbow. This is usually associated with repetitive throwing injuries. It is the most common in young baseball athletes related to poor throwing techniques. Here is a good ARTICLE to read about how to throw correctly. A hairline fracture or a chip in the elbow with a throwing athlete is significant. This means that the athlete was throwing too much or throwing with poor biomechanics. It is important to be evaluated and treated by someone who specializes in throwing athletes. JOI has several clinicians who specialize in the rehab process and biomechanics of throwing athletes.
JOI Physicians continue to offer online new patient appointments. This is another option to make it more convenient to make new patient appointments with less phone hold times. Follow the link below to select your JOI MD and schedule online.
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