Stress Fracture in Foot

If you are experiencing foot pain, it may result from a stress fracture. If so, treatment will be needed to prevent further foot problems. This article focuses on what a foot stress fracture is, what causes these fractures, and the different ways they can be treated.

At Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center, conveniently located in Greater Columbus, we specialize in treating various foot and ankle conditions. Schedule an appointment with our experts today to address any discomfort you may be feeling.

Do I Need Surgery?

Visiting an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t mean that surgery is necessary. Our orthopedic doctors always prefer to use non-surgical procedures to treat injuries.

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I highly recommend them for their professionalism and skills. My family doctor referred me to treat my fractured ankle. My husband and I were impressed and pleased by the friendly and helpful staff at his practice. Everyone was compassionate and concerned about my comfort and wellbeing. The surgery center was easy to access and the staff was professional and well trained. The pain management was amazing. I truly was never in much pain and was off all pain medication in one week. The doctor repaired my ankle and I am happy to report I have full flexibility and I am pain free. The one stop shop was great with an X-ray department, cast clinic, and physical therapy all in one place. ” — Doris B.

What is a Stress Fracture of the Foot?

A stress fracture foot is a tiny crack in one of the bones in your foot. Many stress fractures occur in the weight-bearing bones in the lower leg and foot. The repetitive force these bones absorb during everyday activities, such as walking and running, makes them particularly vulnerable.

These fractures occur when these bones and muscles do not have enough time to heal properly. If you have a stress fracture, you may notice that this specific pain develops over time and is typically worse while you perform weight-bearing activities.

Most stress fractures of the foot and ankle occur in the metatarsal bones. These fractures are also often seen in:

  • The heel bone
  • The outer bone of the lower leg and ankle
  • The lower bone in the ankle joint
  • Other foot bones
Podiatrists in Columbus, OH examining an X-ray of a foot stress fracture.

Common Stress Fracture Causes

A patient healing after a stress fracture in foot surgery.

Most foot and ankle stress fractures are caused by repetitive activity and overuse. Overuse injuries are common in athletes who participate in sports that require a lot of running, such as basketball, soccer, etc.

Even if you are not an athlete, sometimes stress fractures occur if you change your activity level. For example, if you try a new exercise or suddenly increase the intensity of your workouts, you may develop stress fractures.

Other risk factors can include:

  • A medical condition, such as osteoporosis or another disease, can weaken bone density and strength, leaving you susceptible to a fracture, even if you are just performing everyday activities.
  • Wearing a new style of shoe can also result in a fracture.
  • Improper technique or training.
  • Change in the surface that you exercise on.
  • Low level of vitamin D and calcium.
  • Being overweight or underweight.
  • Suddenly switching from a sedentary lifestyle to a very active lifestyle.
  • If you are a female, having an irregular menstrual cycle.
  • Having previous stress fractures.
  • Having a foot deformity can increase your chances as well.

Symptoms of a Stress Fracture of the Foot

You may experience many symptoms if you have a stress-fractured bone in your foot. However, the most common symptom is pain. Other symptoms of a foot stress fracture may include:

How is a Stress Fracture Diagnosed?

To diagnose a fracture, foot doctors will:

  • Thoroughly review and discuss your medical history
  • Ask questions about your overall health
  • Ask if there have been any changes in your physical activity level, diet, work, or any medications that you are taking
  • Perform a physical exam

After your physical examination, your doctor may order
imaging tests to confirm your diagnosis. It may take several weeks before a stress fracture is visible on an X-ray. Other tests that may be used include:

  • A bone scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • A DEXA scan to identify the density of your bones

Treatment for Stress Fractures

While many fractures can be treated without surgery, your specific treatment will depend on the location and severity of your stress fracture. Non-surgical treatments for foot stress fractures may include:

Although rare, sometimes surgical treatment is needed to relieve pain and help you heal from a stress fracture. This surgery is called internal fixation.

Can I Still Walk Even Though I Have a Stress Fracture?

Walking can worsen your injury and cause the injured bone to break completely. Depending on the severity of your fracture, you may be given crutches to take the weight off your injured foot.

It takes about 6 to 8 weeks to heal completely from a stress fracture, so during that time, you will want to avoid any of the activities that caused the injury. If walking is painful, be sure to inform your doctor.

Seeking Help from a Foot Specialist

Stress fractures in feet are common, and allowing yourself time to heal is very important. It is also essential to receive proper treatment to prevent further complications from developing. With the appropriate care and complying with your doctor’s instructions, you can be back on your feet in no time!

Schedule an appointment at Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center today to get the help you require. We are conveniently located in the Greater Columbus area. Our podiatry experts are ready to assist. Contact us today!

Medically Reviewed by: Sarah Abshier, DPM, CWS

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