Stress fractures are considered as overuse injuries. If these occur in the foot, it typically affects the second and third metatarsal bones. There is also the possibility of occurring in the calcaneus or heel as well as the navicular bone on top of the foot. The application of pressure on the foot after sustaining a stress fracture can cause a lot of pain and can even interfere with the daily life of the individual particularly with physical activities. As long as proper first aid care and treatment are provided on time, full recovery is possible.
What are the causes?
There are various factors that can cause a foot stress fracture. If there is an increase in the physical activity particularly high-impact activity, it will put the individual at risk for developing a stress fracture. Take note that an error in a particular technique in sports or activity can lead to a fracture as well.
Any changes in the normal routine such as an increase in the frequency or duration of activity or using shoes that are stiff or worn can also result to a stress fracture. An insufficiency in the bone density such as osteoporosis can also lead to the development of a stress fracture.
Indications of a foot stress fracture
An indicative characteristic of a stress fracture is pain that diminishes if the individual is at rest and if the foot is not used. The pain starts to intensify when pressure is applied on the affected foot. There is also swelling on top of the foot or ankle. Additionally, the foot is tender to the touch at the site of the fracture and can even bruise.
Diagnosing a foot stress fracture
If a doctor is consulted, a complete medical history is taken and the doctor will assess the possible options. In case a fracture is suspected, the doctor will request for an MRI. This will reveal any fractures on the foot. In most cases, an X-ray is not used since it does not usually reveal any stress fractures until they have already healed.
Treatment for a foot stress fracture
In most cases of foot stress fractures, the treatment involves basic first aid. Initially, the affected foot must be elevated higher than the level of the heart and properly rested. You have to apply an ice pack to help minimize the pain and swelling.
Medications such as ibuprofen can be given for pain relief and to minimize the inflammation. In some cases of stress fractures, it would require the surgical implantation of pins in order to secure the bones of the foot. Most cases of foot stress fractures would take up to 6-8 weeks to fully recover so that the individual can gradually resume activity.
The best way to prevent a foot stress fracture is to exercise regularly, ideally 30 minutes every day. Alternating the physical activities is a must so that the feet will not experience repeated stress. The shoes that must be used should properly fit for any activity being engaged in.