X-ray vs. MRI

An x-ray determines the alignment and condition of your bones. Examples of things x-rays can display are deformities of the spine, fractures, bone spurs, tumors, spaces between the discs of the spine, and infections.

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. MRI’s will determine the condition of your muscles/ligaments and the discs in your spine.  Your doctor may not order an MRI initially. Typically no matter what is displayed on the MRI, a physician would recommend physical therapy as the first form of conservative treatment.  An MRI will help the doctor determine if surgery is required for your injury.

Open vs. Closed Fracture

An open fracture is an injury that not only damages the bone but will break the skin. This can cause the bone to protrude out of the skin. Surgery is required to repair the bone and to close the wound in the skin. Antibiotics may also be necessary to prevent infection.

A closed fracture occurs when there is bone breakage but no break in the skin. Typically bruising and swelling are present at the fracture site.

What is a Stress Fracture?

A stress fracture is an incomplete fracture of bone caused by repetitive stress.  It is found within a weight bearing bone, such as the bones within the foot. A stress fracture has also been termed a “hairline fracture”. Symptoms of a stress fracture include tenderness in the area and pain with weight bearing.

Stress fractures commonly occur in athletes that play sports requiring excessive running.  They also occur in sedentary people who begin to exercise.  This happens because their body is not used to exercise; therefore, it is overwhelmed by the repetitive weight bearing forces.  Stress fractures can occur from muscle fatigue.  Our muscles help to provide stability, support, and shock absorption for our bones.  If these muscles become fatigued, our muscles ability to perform the role of shock absorption decreases.  This causes increased risk for a possible fracture. 

After a stress fracture, rehabilitation consists of decreasing weight bearing on the fractured bone to allow it to heal.  After the bone heals, physical therapy is often recommended to strengthen the muscles surrounding the injured bone to return the patient back to all daily activities and to prevent re-injury.