Sometimes when a patient twists or turns their ankle, a stress fracture might result.
Sometimes called hairline fractures, these small crack sometimes aren’t visible on an X-ray for 10 – 14 days.
The more pressure and weight placed on the ankle, the worse the stress fracture can become.
Stress fracture symptoms include pain and swelling that worsen during activity and ease up when you’re at rest. Sometimes the area over the bone might feel tender to the touch.
An overuse injury, stress fractures are caused by the repetitive motions found in many sports, as well as the normal use of bones that have been weakened by arthritis. Most patients think fractures come from an injury, however, most come from performing normal, everyday activities…like simply going to work!
We see them a lot in patients who run, do gymnastics, or play football, basketball and tennis – although they can be caused by just about any sport that involves placing addition and sudden stress on the foot or ankle.
- Over trains
- Suddenly starts a new training or workout program
- Tries to do things for which their body isn’t properly conditioned. For example, if you normally are a couch potato and suddenly start running 10 miles a day.
- Women who have abnormal or non-existent menstrual cycles are also more likely to develop stress fractures.
We diagnose stress fractures through a physical examination and discussion of the history of your pain.
If we suspect a stress fracture, we will do an X-ray. If we aren’t able to visualize the fracture, but have high suspicion, we can use an ultrasound (live video inside your foot focusing on the bone to look for any defects). If we still aren’t able to visualize your issue, a bone scan or MRI will be ordered to confirm the location and extent of the fracture, which will help us determine the right treatment plan.
Treatment options include stabilizing the fracture with a walking boot, brace or cast to allow healing, which might be coupled with crutches or a one knee scooter.
You will need to rest your foot, which means temporarily giving up whatever activity caused the fracture. These are usually coupled with pain relievers and ice applications. To speed up your recovery time we can offer additional healing support with our laser. Typical fracture healing is 6-8 weeks, after 3 laser treatments (performed in 10 days), we are able to decrease your healing to approximately 4-5 weeks.
The need for surgery is relatively rare, but it might be necessary in some types of stress fractures.
There are a few things you can do to avoid stress fractures.
First, always wear proper shoes that will support and cushion your feet and ankles.
Start new workout regimens slowly and work your way up.
Cross training is also a wise approach, since it works a variety of muscle groups while allowing the others to rest.