Bones that undergo more stress than it can handle results in a break, also called a fracture. Stress fractures are incomplete fractures of the bone, caused by repetitive movements (microtrauma), such as running, marching or long periods of walking.
How is it diagnosed? Xrays and a complete medical history are helpful. Stress fractures do not always appear on x-rays in the beginning. After a few weeks when the bone shows signs of healing, it shows up on xrays as a callus, which looks like a bubble around the stressed area. Repeating the xrays after a few weeks from the injury helps the clinician come to this diagnosis.
Symptoms can feel like a deep dull achy pain that doesn’t seem to go away with resting for a few weeks. There may or may not be swelling with bruising. With continued microtrauma, the stress fracture can lead to a complete fracture that may require surgery.
Home care: Stress fractures can generally heal itself with limited or protected walking in a fracture boot for 6-8 weeks. You may need to consider other causes of stress fractures such as osteoporosis, or a bone mineral deficiency.
Think you’re experiencing a stress fracture? Don’t delay care. There are many diagnoses with shared symptoms so discuss it with your foot and ankle specialist. Your doctor can help make the correct diagnosis and provide early treatment. Call us now if you need to be evaluated at 831-288-3400.