What To Do If You Suspect A Stress Fracture
If you have symptoms common to a stress fracture, its important to get an accurate diagnosis as early as possible. An imaging test, such as an X-ray, MRI, or bone scan, is required to accurately diagnose the location and extent of a stress fracture.
Without proper diagnosis and treatment, a stress fracture can worsen and become a full fracture, causing more intense pain and possible displacement of the affected bone. This can cause long-term damage or the need for surgical correction.
Treatment for a stress fracture usually involves steps to reduce the weight-bearing load on the affected foot. This typically requires allowing your bone time to heal by using the RICE method: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
Your podiatrist advises the appropriate use of pain medication to reduce discomfort and swelling. You may also have to use a walking boot, brace, or crutches to immobilize the affected bone and promote healing.
Find out more about stress fractures and whether you may be risking long-term damage by living with this condition. To schedule a consultation with a podiatrist at Chicagoland Foot and Ankle, call our office, or book an appointmentat one of our four locations throughout the Chicagoland area.
You Might Also Enjoy…
Stress Fracture Symptoms & How To Speed Up Recovery
Stress fractures account for over 10 percent of all injuries in sports medicine clinics, and theyre some of the most common running injuries there are. In fact, in running sports they may account for up to 30 percent of all injuries. Thats because our bones endure stress whenever a force is loaded upon it, whether the stress comes from the pull of a muscle or the shock of a leg or foot contacting the ground, there is stress put on the load-bearing bone. Eventually, that stress can lead to a stress fracture.
A stress fracture occurs when muscles become fatigued and cant handle added shock. The fatigued muscle eventually transfers the stress to the bone, which causes tiny cracks or stress fractures. The repeated stress is lower than the stress required to fracture the bone in a single event, but over time it will do damage. The pain is similar shin splints or a heel spur and oftentimes can even be confused for them at first, but a stress fracture is even more common and more problematic if left untreated.
How Can I Avoid Stress Fractures
Increase exercise slowly: My biggest training tip of all would be to make all changes gradually, says Smith. Advanced planning for any training programme is a great way to prevent stress fractures. Set yourself a mini 4-6 week pre-training programme involving very gradual increase in mileage.
Oliver agrees, saying When participating in any new sports activity, set incremental goals. For example, do not immediately set out to run five miles a day instead, gradually build up your mileage on a weekly basis.
If you havent run more than four or five miles in a few months, dont suddenly jump up toa 20-mile run. Experts recommend increasing your weekly mileage by no more than 10 per cent each week.
Metzl also recommends shortening your running stride and quickening your cadence. A stride of 80-90 steps per minute for one foot can decrease your chance of injury.
Don’t Miss: Foot Pain In Heel And Side
How To Speed Up The Process Of Healing
Once the fracture has healed to its optimum point, regular sessions of physiotherapy will help accelerate the strengthening process of the wound. The patient should consult a good physiotherapist who will help in devising the accurate physical therapy program, including the diet that needs to be followed, the medication that needs to be taken and the exercises that need to be done. Proper care and immobilization until the crack has healed will surely ensure recovery and regular functioning in no time.
Injuries cannot be avoided, but with proper care, they can heal faster. It is, therefore, important to follow instructions of your doctor and avoid carelessness in order to recuperate wholly. With the right medical aid, appropriate diet, and disciplined physiotherapy sessions, it is possible to heal a broken foot.
Disclaimer:This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.
Think About Your Nutrition
Endurance athletes typically have an acidic nature to their blood. This side effect of endurance training, in addition to a poor diet, can lead to acid levels that are high enough to pull calcium out from the bones. Take 1200mg of calcium and 400 IU of Vitamin D per day. Also consider a lactic-acid buffer, such as Extreme Endurance, to make the blood less acidic.
Establish what you want to accomplish during this four- to six-week timeframe. For example, do you want to increase flexibility, try other sports such as swimming or biking, spend more quality time with family, etc.?
Volunteer at a race to keep good running karma. Hand out nutrition during a marathon, cheer on your teammates, or volunteer at your favorite event.
Recommended Reading: Las Vegas Foot And Ankle
How Can We Help You
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy our goal is to get you moving pain free as soon as possible.
But, we also want you to actually move better and live a healthier, more active and fulfilling life!
If your sports, fitness training or work has been wearing your body down, book in with one of our expert therapists so we can help you reduce your pain or stiffness, and get you moving well again.
If you are showing some signs of this condition, or simply want help and education to prevent this from happening in the future, then book in with one of our highly experienced therapists today!
You can make an appointment by calling or booking online.
What Causes A Stress Fracture
Stress fractures are caused by repetitive impacts sustained over time, combined with fatigued muscles that become unable to absorb the stress and shock of each impact. But there are other factors, such as how often you exercise, how long you exercise, and your level of exercise intensity.
All these affect how much stress you put on your lower leg muscles and feet. You do not have to be athletic to suffer a stress fracture in your foot.
Older women are more susceptible to osteoporosis and other diseases that weaken bones. Even normal household activities can create stress fractures.
Other causes of stress fractures in the foot include:
- Type of footwear
Don’t Miss: Best Men’s Ankle Socks
Symptoms Of A Fractured Foot
Hairline or stress fractures in the foot are caused by overuse and start to develop over time. Other fractures are the result of an accident or injury and may result in broken or shattered bones. Either way, a fractured foot is painful, and cause swelling and tenderness. Often there is visible bruising to the affected area. A foot fracture can make walking and weight bearing uncomfortable and difficult. Symptoms of a foot fracture can be similar to that of a sprain, bone spur or other foot condition, so its important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to get the correct diagnosis and the right treatment.
Stress Fracture Of The Sesamoids
The sesamoids are two small bones located in the ball of the foot, beneath the joint of the big toe. These bones act as a pulley for the muscles that power the big toe and help it move normally when walking and running. These small bones can sometimes be affected by stress fractures. If this occurs, you will experience pain in the foot around the base of the big toe. Diagnosis can be hard to make on X-rays therefore, your doctor may order an MRI or bone scan if they suspect a stress fracture.
Recommended Reading: Florida Surgery Consultants Spine & Orthopedics
Recovering From Stress Fractures
Once you have visited Dr. Vervilles office and she has diagnosed and treated your stress fracture, youll be on your way to recovery. But how long does it take for stress fractures to heal? The quick answer is about 6-8 weeks. This is typical for most men and women however, the time could decrease, or increase based on the severity of your fracture and how well you follow your post-care instructions.
It is important to refrain from high-impact activities for as long as Dr. Verville recommends. Returning to activity too soon can put you at a higher risk for larger fractures or even breaks. If you re-injure your foot, it is most likely that you will have to recover even longer than you did the first time because the bone did not originally heal properly. We know Frisco is an exciting place and there are a lot of fun things to do, but youll need to make wise, conservative choices during your recovery.
Once your pain has gone away, Dr. Verville may choose to confirm that your stress fracture has healed properly by performing an x-ray or CT scan. If she determines you have healed well, she will give you specific instructions on how to carefully and slowly resume your normal daily activities. She may even recommend you alternate days of activity with days of rest. By doing this, your bone will continue to grow, and it will be able to tolerate more pressure and stress in the future.
Recovery After A Stress Fracture
You dont want to hurry the healing of a stress fracture, as correct and complete healing is essential for the function of your feet and ankles. Heres what Dr. Greenwald wants his patients to know about healing from a stress fracture.
Your recovery plan is designed to relieve your pain and speed full healing for your feet and ankles. If you push too hard and dont follow your recovery plan, you might end up spending more time overall coping with the aftermath of your stress fracture injury.
Typically, stress fractures dont require surgical treatment, reducing the overall time youll need for post-injury recovery. Most stress fractures need about 6-8 weeks for full healing. Depending on the nature and extent of your injury, your recovery treatment plan could include:
- Use of the RICE protocol to reduce pain and inflammation in your affected limb
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Crutches or bracing to help keep weight off your affected limb during healing
You may need to change your usual activities and routine while healing. Cycling and swimming can help you stay in condition while you recover. Dr. Greenwald works with his patients to minimize recovery time as much as possible.
To learn more about healing after a stress fracture, contact Dr. Greenwald today by calling our office or requesting an appointment online.
Recommended Reading: Foot Pads For Ball Of Foot
How Should I Modify My Activities When Recovering From A Stress Fracture
When you are recovering from a stress fracture, it is important to follow your doctors instructions. Ignoring your recovery plan and returning to your full activities too quickly can lead to more severe injuries in the future. There are two things to remember when you are starting to exercise again:
- Take it slowly.
- Introduce activities that place less stress on the injury.
During the early phase of healing, the doctor may recommend that you change your schedule so that you rest one day, do an activity the next day and then rest the next day. An example of this schedule is:
- Do an activity the next day.
- Rest the next day.
Alternating your activity and rest days allow your body to ease back into fitness. You should slowly increase how often and how vigorously you exercise. If the activity that caused the stress fracture is started too quickly, you may develop a larger fracture that is harder to heal. If you re-injure the bone, it can lead to long-term problems, and the stress fracture might never heal properly.
What Causes Stress Fractures
Many sports raise the risk of stress fractures. Activities that require running and jumping may cause fractures in the legs or feet. More than half of all adult and adolescent stress fractures occur in the lower leg bones. Of these, fractures of the tibia — the long bone of our lower leg — are the most common at about 24% of all stress fractures.
Other sports that require repetitive movements — like pitching or rowing — can result in stress fractures of the humerus , but these are much rarer.
Read Also: Lima Orthopedic Institute Of Ohio
History Physical Examination And Imaging
Patients typically present with a progressive onset of pain with weightbearing activity over a period of days to weeks.43 History may include a rapid increase in mileage, intensity, or duration of activity changes in playing surface or sport or inadequate rest periods should raise the suspicion of a stress fracture.8,12,13,18,35,46,55,58,62,63,90,96 A thorough history including diet, nutrition, medications, daily activities, footwear, and menstrual cycles in female athletes should be discussed.5,8,12,13,24,35,46,90 On physical examination, pain with weightbearing or range of motion of a joint near a stress fracture may be elicited, point tenderness is almost universal, and in more superficial areas, edema, warmth, ecchymosis, or even a palpable callus may be present.8,12,13,18,35,46,55,58,62,63,90,96 Assessment of limb alignment and length discrepancies, gait, passive range of motion, tendon function, and callosities provides information about repetitive stresses placed on the symptomatic area.16 Noting alignment of the ankle in neutral, cavovarus, or planovalgus and determining fixed or flexible deformities can provide insight into the underlying causes of the pathology.16 Stiff joints as well as ligamentous laxity are a sign of improper forces across a joint, postulated to put the patient at higher risk of stress fracture.16
How Do We Treat Metatarsal Stress Fractures
Immobilisation in an air cast boot or a cast is often the most appropriate treatment for a metatarsal stress fracture. Most stress fractures will heal after 2-3 weeks immobilisation, carefully returning to activity. During this time you should refrain from activities that put stress on your foot and leg. Surgery may be required in order for the stress fracture to heal properly.
Don’t Miss: How To Know If You Broke Your Ankle
Stress Fracture Healing Time
For most people, the biggest challenge of recovery from a stress fracture is cutting back on their activity for an extended period of time. Ideally, you should avoid weight bearing in any form until the swelling in the area has decreased to the point that you can see skin creases. Then, you can begin partial weight bearing, supported by crutches or a cane if necessary. Typically, you can return to full weight bearing within two weeks of the symptoms appearing. Weight-bearing, after those initial two weeks, is good in that it stimulates healing.
For another six to eight weeks you should avoid the activity that caused the injury. Returning to it too quickly can have a negative impact on the healing process. It may also cause additional damage that never heals properly. When you resume exercising, it is important to do so gradually, increasing distances or repetitions only after confirming that the current level does not cause symptoms to return.
Which Bones Are Affected By A Stress Fracture
Stress fractures occur most often in the second and third metatarsals in the foot, which are thinner than the adjacent first metatarsal. This is the area of greatest impact on your foot as you push off when you walk or run.
Stress fractures are also common in the calcaneus fibula talus and the navicular .
The most commonly affected bones are:
- The metatarsals, which connect the toes to the midfoot.
- The calcaneus .
- The navicular, a bone near the ankle. Navicular stress fractures take a long time to heal.
- The bones that make up the ankle joint particularly the tibia and fibula.
You May Like: Red Spots On Ankles Diabetes
Iii Maturation Or Remodeling Or Bone Remodeling
The cartilage formed in the previous stage slowly starts transforming into hard callus. In its final stage of healing, the fractured bone unifies. Bone remodeling is initiated as soon as the broken bone has unified. Ideally, the bone keeps remodeling itself for years, to come back to its original form. But an average of twelve to fifteen weeks is enough for the bone to heal, before the patient can get back to basic activities like walking and running. With time, the bone morphs back to its original shape and regains its original strength.
Foot Stress Fracture Recovery
It can take between 2 and 8 weeks to fully recover from a foot stress fracture. More serious fractures can take longer and may require additional treatment options.
A physician may wish to perform a diagnostic imaging exam in order to confirm the foot stress fracture has healed. An athlete is generally ready to return to high-impact activities once they are able to perform low-impact activities without pain for an extended period of time.
Modify workout schedule to avoid re-injurySince stress fractures are often the result of overuse or repetitive activities, a physician may suggest integrating rest days into an athleteâs exercise schedule. Additionally, incorporating cross-training, such as swimming or biking, may help avoid worsening the stress fracture or reinjuring the bone, which can lead to more severe symptoms and longer recovery times.
You May Like: Topricin Foot Pain Relief Cream
Physical And Occupational Therapy
Physical therapy is commonly recommended to ensure a successful recovery. Physical therapy helps increase range of motion, strength and flexibility and can reduce the risk of future injuries. Occupational therapists can help you to use walking aids correctly if required, as well as help you navigate your work environment to allow you to maintain functionality at work.
It is important to attend all follow up appointments with your physician and attend all physical therapy sessions throughout your treatment and recovery periods to ensure the fracture is healing properly and recovery is a success.