What Is A Stress Fracture?
Stress fractures, also called hairline fractures, are a tiny crack in a bone that will widen and worsen over time. While they can certainly occur anywhere in the body, the most common stress fractures are found in the weight-bearing ankle and foot bones.
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.
Stress Fracture Causes
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. 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. Stress fractures can also result when a person over trains, suddenly starts a new training or workout program, or 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.
Beyond activities, certain factors can increase a person’s risk of stress fractures, such as:
- Flat feet,
- High arches and
- Women who have abnormal or non-existent menstrual cycles are also more likely to develop stress fractures.
The Next Step…
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, bone scan or MRI 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. 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.
The need for surgery is relatively rare, but it might be necessary in some types of stress fractures.
Preventing 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.
If you are experiencing foot pain, call our office or make an online appointment
Accepted Insurance Providers
There may be providers, plans and coverage not included on this list. We will help you with navigating the options for coverage and costs. We also accept HSA, Flex accounts, Care Credit and prompt pay pricing for treatment at the clinic and surgical procedures. We do not accept Medicaid plans at this time. Visit our New Patient page for more details.