Recognizing the Signs of a Stress Fracture

A stress fracture is a tiny crack in your bone. Although they can develop in almost any bone in the human body, they’re most common in weight-bearing bones in your legs and feet.

Symptoms of stress fractures often come on slowly, making them one of the more difficult foot problems to identify. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to let pain from an undiagnosed stress fracture get in the way of your active lifestyle.

Lisa Burson, DPM, Joe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists regularly diagnose and treat stress fractures in athletes of all ages and ability levels. If you’ve noticed increasing foot pain, it’s time to learn if it could be a stress fracture.

Common causes of stress fractures

As the name implies, stress fractures develop as the result of repeated stress on a bone. Repetitive force and overuse put the bone under excess stress, and a hairline crack can form without the bone completely fracturing. 

It’s a common injury, and it’s one that can affect anyone from professional athletes to weekend warriors. Running or participating in high-impact sports like basketball or gymnastics may increase your risk of this type of injury.

Another possible cause of a stress fracture is a sudden change in activity. Whether you’ve just started a brand new workout routine or you’re amping up your activity level, doing too much too soon can trigger a stress fracture.

Stress fractures can also develop because of other health issues. Osteoporosis is a degenerative condition that causes weakened bones, and it can increase your risk of stress fracture. Having a history of stress fractures may also make it more likely you’ll suffer another one in the future.

Recognizing the signs of stress fracture

A full fracture often causes intense pain at the time of injury. Significant swelling, restricted range of motion, and inability to bear weight on the foot are also common.

Stress fractures, on the other hand, are more insidious. Stress fractures often start small and get worse over time. It’s possible that you may not even notice pain when the fracture begins to develop.

As the stress fracture worsens, you might notice tenderness or pain in a specific spot, as well as swelling. Common signs of a stress fracture include

Pain caused by a stress fracture may feel sharp or shooting when you stand. It’s common to experience increased pain when you walk or run, but pain may dissipate with rest.

At The Foot & Ankle Specialists, Dr. Lisa Burson and Dr. Joe Aoun diagnose stress fractures with physical exams and imaging tests, like X-rays. Your treatment depends on the severity of your fracture, but treating stress fractures often includes a combination of rest and splinting or casting.

Find comprehensive care for foot pain and fractures at The Foot & Ankle Specialists. Call the office nearest you, or request a consultation online today.

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