What is Foot Stress Fracture?
Foot stress fracture occurs mostly due to overuse which happens while playing sports like running, basketball, dance, gymnastics, track and field, tennis, etc. during which your feet come into constant and high-impact contact with the hard ground. When your feet repeatedly strike the ground, it can cause stress-related problems in the bones of the lower legs and feet. To recover from a foot stress fracture, rest is the main element.
When our muscles become tired due to overuse, they become unable to mitigate the impact of repeated shocks. Thus, stress is transferred to bones, which creates fractures or small cracks in them. Most commonly, the metatarsal bones of the feet suffer stress fractures.
Causes of Foot Stress Fracture
Stress fractures are caused depending upon the frequency of your high-impact exercise, the duration and intensity. In some seniors, osteoporosis weakens bones which can lead to a stress fracture while doing normal activities. Thus, bone insufficiency is another cause of stress fracture. Poor conditioning, bad technique, improper equipment, and change of training surface from soft to hard are other common causes of foot stress fracture.
- Bruising at the site
Diagnosis of Foot Stress Fracture
The doctor will enquire about your exercise regimen and other activities, and examine the injured foot. Imaging tests like x-rays and a MRI scan can help to detect the site and size of the stress fracture.
Treatment for Foot Stress Fracture
If the pain does not subside with icing, and starts to become worse with time, you can be almost sure it must be a fracture. Avoid putting weight on the foot and take the help of someone to go a hospital emergency room immediately.
Treatment depends on the severity and location of the fracture. The fractured foot may be put into a cast and you will be asked to use crutches to avoid putting weight on it. Take complete rest for the next few months to allow the fracture to heal steadily. Cover the cast with a plastic wrap to prevent it from getting wet while bathing.
To heal some foot stress fractures, surgery may be necessary, during which pins, screws or plates are inserted to hold together the injured portion, and enable quicker healing.
It is essential to ensure the injury heals completely before you start exercising again. Otherwise, re-injury can occur which can cause chronic problems, because the fracture may never heal completely. After rehabilitation, start slowly and only increase your workload whennyou are sure the foot stress fracture has healed properly and completely.
How to Prevent Foot Stress Fracture
- Build strong bones by including foods rich in vitamin D and calcium in your daily diet.
- Do not wear ill-fitting or worn out shoes, and always use good sports equipment.
- Alternate your running workouts with cycling or swimming.
- Increase your workload gradually and not in a hurry.
- Do strength training to prevent muscle fatigue and age-related bone density loss.
- If you feel pain while working out, stop immediately, take rest, and see a doctor.
For useful tips on self-diagnosis of foot stress fracture, please watch this video: