How to manage a stress fracture.

A stress fracture of the foot is one of the most common complaints encountered by Podiatrists.

This type of fracture is simply a "hairline" fracture of one of the bones in the body. As the name suggests, this type of injury is usually the result of repeated stress to an area and is also therefore termed an overuse injury.

Foot fractures are commonly seen in athletes or sports people but can also occur as a result of normal walking, running and general exercise.

Some studies have suggested stress fractures in the foot may be an early sign of osteoporosis so be sure to seek medical attention if you think you have a stress fracture.

Stress Fracture Symptoms

  • Pain usually develops gradually and increases with weight-bearing activities. Pain decreases with rest but can wake you at night.
  • Swelling on the top of the foot.
  • Bruising may occur.
  • The foot is very tender to touch at the site of the fracture.

    Where Do Stress Fractures Occur?

    Common stress fracture types seen by Podiatrists include:

  • foot stress fracture;
  • stress fracture of the tibia or tibial stress fracture;
  • heel stress fracture or calcaneal stress fracture;
  • metatarsal stress fracture;
  • ankle stress fracture;
  • stress fracture of the shin;
  • fibula stress fracture; and
  • navicular stress fractures.

    These are by no means the only stress fractures seen, however these are just some of the more common encounters.

    Stress Fracture Treatment

    A few simple rules need to be followed when managing stress fractures of the foot.

    Rest is crucial. You should see your Podiatrist as soon as possible to confirm the diagnosis. This is usually done using special radiographic procedures such as a bone scan or CT scan. Stress fractures rarely show up on regular x-ray films.

    Various forms of weight relief padding and shoe modifications can be carried out immediately to promote healing of a foot stress fracture.

    In some cases crutches or even a below knee cast may be needed for a period of six to eight weeks.

    Following initial weight relief and healing, a thorough biomechanical analysis should be carried out to determine the need for orthoses or orthotic appliances. These can help in the prevention of re-injury to areas subjected to high levels of stress.

    WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist, your Doctor or your foot specialist.

    Still have a question about your foot problem, leg pain or you just need some footwear advice?

    Visit our Foot Problems page and ask us a question about your specific problem. We'll do our best to help.

    To find a Podiatrist or Foot Doctor near you visit our Find a Podiatrist page and click on your country.

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