Symptoms of Stress
The most telltale symptom of stress fractures is pain, often behind your 2nd and 3rd toe, by your heel, and other areas near your ankle. The pain however is not always debilitating—sometimes it’s just uncomfortable and makes activities difficult. Swelling may occur, and although you may see bruising or discoloration, it is rare. If you ignore the symptoms and just push through the pain, you could make the injury worse and end up having to take a longer time to heal, or even needing surgery.
Causes of Cracks
When you increase your high-impact activity or sport by intensity, duration, and frequency, you may cause a stress fracture in your foot or ankle. By doing too much at once, you weaken the bones and put added pressure upon them, which can cause the bones to crack or break.
If your foot has a deformity that you do not address and continue with your activities as normal, you may also increase the likelihood of injury. For example, if you have a bunion, this may cause your weight to be redistributed to a different part of your foot which will then endure an increased amount of pressure. Continuing to run on it can cause additional stress until a fracture occurs.
Methods of Treatment
If the fracture is new and small, you may only need rest to help heal your foot. By keeping weight off of it, you are allowing the bone to heal on its own. Also, icing will help with the pain and keep the swelling down, but be sure to keep a thin cloth between the skin and the ice pack.
If you ignore the pain and keep running on your stress fracture, you can worsen the condition. When this happens, you may need to treat the stress fracture with a cast or walking boot. This will immobilize the injury and take weight off your foot and ankle. If, however, the injury is severe and results in a misalignment, then more drastic measures, like surgery, may be required. The procedure will likely involve inserting metal plates and screws to help hold the foot in place. This will realign your foot and allow it to heal in the correct formation thus avoiding further complications and surgeries.
For most foot and ankle injuries, we still believe prevention-where possible-is the best treatment option since it allows you to avoid pain and discomfort completely. To help prevent stress fractures, make sure you're wearing proper footwear, which may include the use of custom orthotics. Make sure you eat a well balanbced diet, and avoid doing too much in your exercise program. If your feet start to hurt, do something that puts less stress on your feet. Swimming and cycling are two great substitutes for runners who need to give their feet som TLC.
If you are feeling pain in your foot or ankle and you think it might be a stress fracture, come visit our office in Massapequa, NY, serving patients in Bethpage and all surrounding areas. We will examine your injury, pinpoint the problem, and set a course of action to treat it. Don’t push through the pain, come in and let us help. By calling (516) 804-9038, and setting up an appointment with Mark Gasparini, D.P.M., you are making the right choice for your health.