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Stress Fractures in the Foot
What are Stress Fractures in the Foot?Stress fractures are tiny cracks that can develop in a bone as a result of repetitive small traumas or abnormally high pressures going through a particular bone. Stress fractures in the feet most commonly occur in the second and third metatarsals and less commonly in the fifth metatarsal, sesamoids, navicular and calcaneus.
Causes of Stress Fractures in the Foot
- A sudden increase in high impact activities such as running, jumping, dancing.
- Incorrect foot or lower limb mechanics or activity technique.
- Poor bone density.
- Midsole of runners worn out, shoe lacking support or poor fit.
- Women are generally more likely to develop a stress fracture than men.
- A gradual increase in pain during activity.
- Relieved with rest.
- People with stress fracture often complain of pain at night in bed.
- Pain is often experienced on palpation of the affected bone.
- Stress fractures are often diagnosed through subjective and physical assessment alone.
- X-ray’s are sometimes requested however they often fail to show up a stress fracture.
- A bone scan is a more sensitive imaging modality and is often used in cases where x-rays have failed to demonstrate the stress fracture.
Suggestions for Managing Stress Fractures in the Foot
- Activity modification or ceasing any activity which elicits pain.
- Replacing, changing or modifying your footwear. Ask your podiatrist for information regarding the most appropriate shoe for your foot type/condition.
- Padding and/or orthotics may help to redistribute the high pressures and offload the affected bone.
- Strengthening and stretching programs to help increase strength around the affected bone may be prescribed to increase stability of the foot and reduce high pressures in the region.
- In more severe cases an orthopaedic shoe/boot may be prescribed for approximately 4-6 weeks to help immobilize the foot and reduce foot plantar pressures.
- To help prevent stress fractures from occurring make sure to gradually increase activity levels or mileage when beginning an exercise regime.
- Contact your podiatrist or health professional as soon as possible to help reduce the severity of the fracture and speed recovery.