Finals footy is seldom a good time to be trying to come back early from stress reaction injuries, as Geelong midfielder / forward Steve Johnson has found out this week. After missing three weeks of football with a stress reaction in his foot, he returned against Hawthorn last week only to miss this weeks sudden death match against North Melbourne.
A stress reaction injury occurs when a particular bone is under excessive load, the cells involved in breaking down bone (osteoclasts) work faster than those which produce new bone (osteoblasts) resulting in a decrease to the structural integrity of the bone. The risk with stress reaction injuries is that they have the capacity to become stress fractures or complete fractures. Johnson could play this weekend with anaesthetic, however risks a stress fracture or complete fracture resulting in several months of rehabilitation and a delayed start to the 2015 season.
Rehabilitation for stress fractures typically involves periods of complete non-weight bearing for up to six weeks, followed by an additional six weeks of mobilisation, massage, manipulation and a gradual return to activity.