If the bones were an egg, a stress fracture is like a crack in the egg, whereas a full fracture is breaking the egg open. It is important to diagnose the former so that it will not lead to the latter.
Stress fractures are described as small cracks in the bone, which may be a result of repeated stress from running and jumping activities that are frequently performed. Proper treatment may generally include adequate resting time that is needed to heal this ailment, which may aid in preventing serious conditions from occurring to the bones in the feet. A proper diagnosis will typically include having an X-ray performed. If this is inconclusive, having an MRI taken may prove to be a more reliable method to determine if a stress fracture has occurred. Research has shown there may be ways that stress fractures may be prevented, and these may include maintaining overall strength in the bones. This may be accomplished by ingesting specific nutrients on a frequent basis. Additionally, when certain stretching exercises are performed before any running or jumping activities are pursued, the calf muscles may become looser. This may result in changing the running technique, which may change the amount of force the foot may endure. If you have developed a stress fracture in your foot, it is suggested to speak with a podiatrist, so a proper diagnosis can be performed.
Stress fractures occur when there is a tiny crack within a bone. To learn more, contact Dr. John Hoy from Seattle Foot and Ankle Center. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain free and on your feet.
How Are They Caused?
Stress fractures are the result of repetitive force being placed on the bone. Since the lower leg and feet often carry most of the body’s weight, stress fractures are likely to occur in these areas. If you rush into a new exercise, you are more likely to develop a stress fracture since you are starting too much, too soon. Pain resulting from stress fractures may go unnoticed at first, however it may start to worsen over time.
Gender – They are more commonly found in women compared to men.
Foot Problems – People with unusual arches in their feet are more likely to develop stress fractures.
Certain Sports – Dancers, gymnasts, tennis players, runners, and basketball players are more likely to develop stress fractures.
Lack of Nutrients – A lack of vitamin D and calcium may weaken the bones and make you more prone to stress fractures
Weak Bones – Osteoporosis can weaken the bones therefore resulting in stress fractures
Stress fractures do not always heal properly, so it is important that you seek help from a podiatrist if you suspect you may have one. Ignoring your stress fracture may cause it to worsen, and you may develop chronic pain as well as additional fractures.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office located in Seattle, WA. We offer the newest diagnostic and treatment technologies for all your foot care needs.
Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle
Our bones are important aspects of our body and they are constantly changing. The heavier the workload for a bone, the more likely it is that calcium will be placed in it. When a bone isn’t used often, there won’t be much calcium within it. When stress from repetitive loads prevent the bone from being able to repair itself, cracks will start to form. Stress fractures are defined as cracks in a bone that result from repetitive force, such as overuse.
The most common cause of stress fractures is a sudden increase in intensity and duration of physical activity. For example, if you begin to run long distances without working your way into doing so, you will be more likely to develop a stress fracture.
Common symptoms of stress fractures are pain and swelling near the weight bearing area on the injured bone. When initial x-rays are performed, it is possible that the fracture will not show up. However, once the stress on the area continues, the damage will increase, and the fracture will be severe enough to show up on an x-ray. Certain parts of the foot are more likely to develop stress fractures than others. Areas that typically have these fractures are: the metatarsals, the navicular bone, the calcaneus, tibia, and fibula.
Since women are at an increased risk of developing osteoporosis, they are twice as likely as men to sustain a stress fracture. Additionally, old age causes a decrease in bone mineral density which is why elderly people are also likely to develop these fractures.
It is important for you to be professionally diagnosed by a podiatrist if you suspect you have a stress fracture, because there are other injuries that can easily be mistaken for a fracture. Sprains, strains, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and Morton’s neuroma can all easily be mistaken for stress fractures in the foot. Your podiatrist will likely ask you a series of questions to determine what type of pain you are experiencing. These questions will help your doctor identify whether you have a stress fracture.
The best method of treatment for a stress fracture is rest. Additionally, a walking boot, cast, or crutches, will help rest the area that is injured. The typical healing time for stress fractures is 4-12 weeks, however this depends on which bone is involved.