Nonsurgical Treatment for Spinal Stress Fractures

The spine is a very strong part of your body – it keeps your body erect, withstands lots of pressure, facilitates all kinds of movements, and protects the delicate nerves from stress and injury. However, even the resilient bones and joints of the spine are subject to injury on occasion.

One common injury of the spine is a stress fracture, also known as spondylolysis. Stress fractures are relatively common in younger people — particularly adolescent athletes — but can happen to just about anyone.

Although surgery is an option for treating spondylolysis and its subsequent problems, many individuals are able to recover from stress fractures with non-invasive treatments like rest. At Ideal Spine, we encourage chiropractors and other spinal experts to familiarize themselves with non-surgical treatments for spondylolysis.

Using our Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) technique, we strive to put patients on their road to recovery.

Stress fractures and their side effects

Spondylolysis occurs in one (or more) of the spinal vertebrae. These cracks are most common in the fifth or fourth vertebrae of the lumbar spine, and they typically form in the weakest part of the vertebra called the pars interarticularis.

The formation of stress fractures can lead to another related condition called spondylolisthesis, which introduces more problems within the spine. This condition is when a fracture weakens the vertebrae so much that it cannot maintain its position in the spine and slips out of place or down over the vertebrae below it.

These two conditions, whether separate or together, can lead to back pain that radiates down the back into the buttocks and thighs, as well as numbness and limited mobility.

Treating stress fractures without surgery

Although surgery may be necessary in some severe cases of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis, many people with these conditions are able to manage their pain without any surgical procedures. Instead, at-home, chiropractic, and physical therapy treatments may be instrumental in restoring mobility and function to the back and minimizing pain as the fracture heals.

In most cases, non-surgical approaches are usually the first line of action, and many patients are able to heal and live free of pain using these treatments.

  • Rest: One of the most important aspects of non-surgical treatment for a stress fracture is rest. The patient must take time to rest and stop engaging in any strenuous activities, including sports. If activity continues, pain may worsen and the fracture may not be able to heal, potentially developing into a more serious problem. However, light exercise should be conducted regularly – bed rest is often not required for the full duration of the healing period.
  • Pain medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be a temporary way to reduce swelling and alleviate pain as the fracture begins to heal.
  • Back brace: A back brace may be necessary to maintain proper alignment of the spine for optimal healing of the fracture. A brace may also help to minimize pain because it prevents unnecessary movement of the spine.
  • Chiropractic and PT: Chiropractic care and physical therapy may help the patient reduce pain and return to normal activity later in the healing process. Professional-led exercises may help strengthen muscles around the spine to keep the spine in place, and other exercises and stretches may help improve flexibility and range of motion by restoring function in the joints surrounding the fracture.

Stress fractures can worsen if the right treatment plan is not created at the start of the problem. Visit a chiropractor trained by Ideal Spine and see what they can do to potentially help your stress fracture heal, so you can return to your normal activities.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.