How to Prevent Stress Fractures of the Foot
Whether it’s by eating better, exercising, or both, many people are always thinking about ways to get themselves in shape. They plan out a diet, sign up for a gym, or start walking or running to become healthier.
As the summer months approach, we typically start to see more patients with stress fractures in their foot or ankle. The most common complaint we hear is about pain that develops gradually over a period of a few months, which feels worse with activity and better with rest. They may have swelling and tenderness to the area, but usually can’t see any bruising. This pain may be the result of a stress fracture.
What is a stress fracture of the foot?
A stress fracture is most often a result of overuse or increase in activity, which can be from a new exercise routine, job duties, or athletics. One of the first questions we ask patients when they have point tenderness over a bone in their foot or ankle is if they have increased their activities right before their pain started—and they all respond yes.
A stress fracture can be easily misdiagnosed because it is not always possible to see on an x-ray in the early stages of the fracture. If we cannot see the fracture on x-ray, but there is high suspicion of a stress fracture, we may suggest obtaining an MRI in order to provide further clarification.
Stress fractures occur more commonly in weight-bearing bones. The second metatarsal bone is the most common stress fracture of the foot.
How do I treat a stress fracture of the foot?
Treating a stress fracture of the foot consists of stopping the activity and resting for a period of time. This resting period may last up to eight weeks. We may also recommend shoe modification to allow the stress fracture to heal. This can be accomplished with a CAM boot, post-op shoe, or stiff-soled tennis shoe with a carbon fiber plate insert. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation may help in the healing process as well.
How to prevent stress fractures of the foot in Kansas City
There are a few ways to try to prevent stress fractures. The main way to prevent a stress fracture of the foot is to start out slow. For example, do not try to walk or run 5 miles a day every day if you aren’t used to that duration or intensity, or you’ve been on a break. Instead, increase running or walking distance no more than about 10% per week.
You should also stretch before and after exercise to help warm the muscles up and cool them down. Also, it’s important to wear proper footwear for your activity.
Left picture: Stress fracture of the second metatarsal not seen right after symptoms started. Right picture: Stress fracture seen in the second metatarsal after healing.
Get more information about how to prevent or treat a stress fracture of the foot in Kansas City
Reach out to the experts at Apex Orthopedics & Sports Medicine to get answers to all of your questions related to the health of your bones, joints, and muscles.