Can a Hairline Fracture Affect the Straight-Line Walking Test as Justin Bieber Claims

On Mar 19, 2014, Justin Bieber, a Canadian pop musician, dancer, actor, and singersongwriter discovered by American talent manager Scooter Braun in 2008, claimed that he failed the straight-line walking test because of the hairline fracture on his foot according to the police report after Justin was caught for DUI. He has a July trial date.

Hairline fractures are also considered “stress fractures” by podiatrists. The injury is occurred from repetitive stress or straining on the affected bone. Eventually, ground reactive force becomes very strong and causes a depression or a minute crack on the bone. Sometimes, a stress fracture will not show up on an x-ray when the injury is considered “acute”. But typically, 2-6 weeks post injury, an x-ray will show some bone healing indicating there has been a hairline fracture in the area. Hairline fractures can be a result from a sudden fall or from the repetitive motion of sports or even dancing.

What are the symptoms that patients should look out for if suspecting a hairline fracture? Pain and tenderness are noted over the affected area whether with rest or with activities. In order to help the hairline or stress fracture to heal correctly, patients are often advised to refrain from the activities that might aggravate thepain or tenderness for at least 1 month. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) sucha s Ibuprofen, Aleve, naproxen etc. can be taken for pain management. If pain occurs with full weight bearing, crutches and CAM walkers are helpful as well and may be prescribed by your doctor.

It is always recommended that the patient should seek help from a medical professional after this type of injury to ensure he or she gets an appropriate treatment for the condition. If the hairline fracture is minor, a cast might be enough for appropriate bone healing. However, sometimes a surgery will be required to heal the hairline fracture if it’s a severe case.

Always remember to listen to your doctor! If you are wearing a cast and walking boot or are to be non-weight-bearing (using crutches or roll-a-bout) do not take them off and put weight on it. It needs time to heal and even if the pain is gone it doesn’t mean the fracture has healed completely. The multi-talented star Cher confided recently that she took off her cast for a foot fracture in the late 1990’s after only two weeks because it felt better and started dancing on it immediately because she said she had to be in Las Vegas for performances. She regrets to this day that she had not listened to her doctor and done the right thing. She has been dancing on it all these years, but year by year, it’s gotten worse and the movie ‘Burlesque’ kind of put it over the edge because she had 16-hour days and unbelievably high heels. She found it hard to even walk because of the scar tissue and had to undergo surgery in late 2013 before her ‘Dressed to Kill’ tour this year.

How can a hairline fracture be diagnosed? As stated previously, if the injury is acute, hairline fractures might not show up on an x-ray until the bone starts healing. However, a bone scan or MRI and detailed history and physical findings can help a doctor to diagnose the hairline fracture.

Think you might have suffered from a hairline fracture? Make an appointment with your foot and ankle specialist who can help take care of your injury appropriately and prevent further complications that might happen in the future.