Stress fractures are the most common injuries caused by overuse in sports and fitness. The disease is common among athletes, but anyone who engages in repetitive or high-impact activities can be affected. Overuse injuries account for about half of all sports injuries.
Stress fractures of the foot are often caused by repeated stress on the injured bone. As a result of the increased strain, the bone develops microscopic hairline cracks known as stress fractures.
Cracks can deepen over time if you don’t get treatment or make lifestyle adjustments to help the bone heal. Early detection and treatment are the most effective approaches to prevent stress fractures from shattering. Scroll down to learn about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of stress fractures in the foot.
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What Causes Stress Fractures in the Foot?
Stress fractures of the foot usually occur during physical activity or when standing increases sharply.
Bones normally adapt gradually to changes in stress and exercise.this is known as modification.
Some bone tissue is destroyed and replaced during remodeling to accommodate additional activity. For example, starting a new fitness routine can change your body.according to the studystress fractures of the foot are commonly found in athletes, but those who report less pain in their extremities have a lower risk of stress fractures of the foot.
If changes occur too quickly, bone tissue can be damaged faster than the body can repair it. This can make bones very brittle. Fragile bones are more prone to stress fractures.
Other factors that can increase the risk of stress fractures include:
- have osteoporosis or other diseases that weaken bones;
- Having experienced a stress fracture in the past.
- Play high-impact sports such as tennis or basketball.
- Participate in sports such as gymnastics and dance.
- High or stiff arches.
- have flat feet.
- Regularly wearing ill-fitting, unsupportive, or worn shoes.
- Sudden change from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle or significant change in activity level.
- Irregular menstrual cycle.
- I have an eating disorder.
- Consume a diet deficient in vitamin D and calcium.
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What are the symptoms of a stress fracture of the foot?
Stress fractures often damage the weight-bearing bones of the foot that function to cope with the constant stress that occurs when running, jumping, or walking.
The second category and third metatarsal bony structures, the long, thin bones in the toes and ankles, are common sites of pain. Early symptoms indicate that stress fractures may be mild to moderate, so it’s tempting to dismiss them as annoying.
The more often destructive activities are performed without giving the bone time to heal, the more likely it is that stress fractures will progress and cause symptoms such as:
- Pain, swelling, and tenderness in the foot, especially during activity, are common symptoms of stress fractures in the foot.
- Pain, soreness, and stiffness are worse after or during strenuous exercise or movement.
- Relief of pain during rest.
- Swelling around the ankle and the top of the foot.
- Swelling and bruising at the site of the stress fracture.
If you have these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately to determine effective treatment and prevent future risk of damage to the damaged bone.
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How are stress fractures of the foot diagnosed?
To evaluate these potential factors, doctors first ask about discomfort and level of exercise.
Your doctor will then evaluate you and take x-rays of the painful areas. Even when stress fractures are present, x-rays often appear normal and show no fractures in the bone. This is because bone frequently responds by growing new bone to repair cracks.
However, damaged bones are still prone to bending. The final step in forming new bone is for the bone to undergo mineralization.
In some cases, your doctor may request a bone scan or MRI to provide additional information beyond a regular x-ray. However, these more expensive procedures are not always required for stress fracture detection.
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How are stress fractures of the foot treated?
The severity of the stress fracture determines the treatment plan.
Some stress fractures can be treated with rest and pain-relieving drugs. More severe stress fractures may require surgery. Your doctor can decide which solution is best for you.
Common treatments for stress fractures of the foot include:
Doctors generally advise patients not to put weight on the foot for 6 to 8 weeks while the stress fracture heals. Your doctor may provide you with a list of safe activities during this period.There are some protocols to follow rice.
Applying ice to your feet can help minimize swelling and pain.
Elevating your feet at night or while sitting can help reduce swelling and remove excess fluid.
Your doctor may advise you to take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) to relieve pain. If the pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe a stronger NSAID.
Some stress fractures in the foot require a cast, while others do. A cast stabilizes the foot while the bone heals.
6. Footwear for protection
If you have to stand or walk, wearing protective shoes can help prevent stress on your feet.
Most stress fractures heal without surgery. However, surgery may be required to stabilize the bone and ensure a good recovery. This usually involves inserting surgical screws and plates into the bones of the foot to immobilize the foot.
Read more: Vertebral Stress Fractures: Treatment and Prevention
What are the preventive measures for stress fractures of the foot?
Here are some tips to avoid stress fractures.
Gradually increase your workload
Set progressive goals when starting a new sporting activity. For example, immediately start running 5 kilometers every day. Instead, gradually increase your weekly miles.
This is achieved by alternating exercises that achieve similar fitness goals. It helps prevent diseases such as stress fractures. Instead of running every day to reach your cardiovascular goals, alternate between running on even days and cycling on odd days. Flexibility and endurance exercises should be added to the mix for maximum benefit.
maintain a nutritious diet
Include foods rich in calcium and vitamin D in your diet.
use the right equipment
Wearing old or worn running shoes is not recommended.
beware of pain
If you experience pain or swelling, stop immediately and rest for a few days. If discomfort persists, consult an orthopedic surgeon.
Treat as soon as symptoms appear
It is important to remember that if the signs and symptoms are detected early and treated appropriately, you will be able to return to normal levels of sport.
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Excessive use can lead to stress fractures, small cracks in the bone. Stress fractures of the foot are frequently observed among some athletes and those who start exercising quickly after being idle for a long period of time.
Many people do not notice stress fractures because the cracks in the bone are so small. It may take several days before you feel pain.
For stress fractures of the foot, it is important to see a doctor. If the injury is left untreated, it can get worse and lead to fractures.
Treatment often involves rest, ice, and pain relievers. Surgery is rarely needed. However, it may be necessary for severe leg fractures.