Runners, bikers and sports enthusiasts of all types: You’re going to want to read this.
If you’ve ever suffered from a stress fracture in your foot or worry about injuring yourself with one while performing your favorite activity, this guide to foot stress fractures is for you!
You can’t prevent or heal this injury if you don’t know what it is, right?
In simple terms, a foot stress fracture is a small crack or a severe bruising in one of the bones of your foot.
The majority of foot stress fractures occur in the metatarsal bones.
If you’re unfamiliar with the anatomy of the foot, these are the 5 tubular bones that run down the middle of your foot.
The second and third metatarsals are the most prone to stress fractures, as they are the thinnest and longest.
They’re also the bones that bear the greatest impact when you walk or run.
2.) Fibula (which is the outer bone of the lower leg and ankle)
3.) Talus (which is the small bone in the ankle joint)
4.) Navicular (which is the bone on top of the middle of the foot)
Although there are many things that can cause a foot stress fracture, the 3 most common causes are:
1.) Prolonged pressure due to intense exercise
3.) Repetitious physical labor
The bad news is that once you have a foot stress fracture, it’s likely to occur again.
In fact, around 60% of people who get one re-injure themselves with another one.
Because a stress fracture can be very fine, it’s sometimes hard to see on an x-ray.
However, you’ll know if you have one, as it can be an incredibly painful condition.
Any sport can cause a foot stress fracture, but there are a few in particular that rate high on the list.
These consist of:
1.) High impact sports, such as basketball
2.) Long distance running
And while most people can play these sports and never get hurt, it’s common for people who are new to the exercise or who are ramping up their workout intensity to develop a stress fracture.
After all, when your muscles aren’t conditioned to do something, they will get tired quickly and won’t be able to cushion your bones well.
When your bones undergo extreme pressure with little cushion, that’s when a stress fracture occurs.
This being said, foot stress fractures are also common among people who suddenly switch the type of surface they work out on.
For example, if your regular exercise routine consists of jogging on the treadmill, and you decide to jog on hard pavement instead, you may find yourself with a foot stress fracture.
Women are more prone to develop foot stress fractures, especially those who have osteoporosis (weakened bones).
Teens are also more prone to them, because they don’t have fully hardened bones like most adults do.
Interestingly enough, foot stress fractures are more common during the winter months, when people aren’t in the sun much and Vitamin D levels in the body may drop.
It’s always a good idea to ease into any exercise routine.
This will keep your feet feeling good.
Even if you’re a seasoned athlete, you can develop a foot stress fracture.
For example, some athletes train hard in the warm months of spring and summer, and after lessened activity in the winter they think they can just pick up at the same level that they left off.
This is when they usually end up hurting themselves.
Never, ever try to push through foot pain when you’re working out or playing sports.
If your feet begin to hurt, give them a reasonable amount of time to recover and feel better before you begin activity again.
It’s also important to note that if you suffer from bunions, tendonitis or even blisters, you should make sure you’re feeling pain-free before you resume activity.
If you have any of these conditions, it can affect the way you place weight on your foot when you run or walk.
Putting more pressure on certain bones can easily lead to foot stress fractures.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you should always wear proper fitting shoes when you play sports or exercise.
If your shoes have lost their shock-absorbing ability, don’t wear them any longer. An investment in good fitting, shock absorbing shoes is an investment in good health.
If you think that you may have a stress fracture in your foot, it’s imperative that you see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
If you don’t seek medical attention, the fracture can turn into a complete break.
While you are waiting for medical attention, be sure to rest your foot.
Don’t put any weight on it if you don’t have to.
If you must put weight on it, make sure that you wear a supportive shoe with a thick sole.
If you’re resting your foot, ice it several times a day in order to keep the swelling down.
You can also wrap your foot with a bandage and elevate it at a level that’s higher than your heart.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication may also help to alleviate the pain you’re feeling (always consult your doctor before taking any medications).
Once you visit a podiatrist, he or she will examine you and ask about your medical history.
You will most likely get an x-ray.
If you’re diagnosed with a stress fracture, your podiatrist will probably tell you to keep stress off your foot for at least 6 to 8 weeks and you may be given a brace shoe to wear.
If you have a stress fracture on the fifth metatarsal bone (on the outside of your foot), you may have to wear a cast – as this injury typically takes longer to heal.
In very severe cases, surgery may be required.
If you think that you may have fractured your foot or ankle, give us a call today so that you can get it checked out immediately at 301-937-5666.
We are located in Beltsville Maryland, convenient to the Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Metro Area.
For your convenience we can x-ray your foot right in our office without having to leave and go somewhere else.