Stress fractures are considered an overuse type of injury. This means that a fraction may raise on the foot or ankle from increased exercise, over time, which results in an injury.
Stress fractures are small cracks in the bones that develop when the muscles that surround the area become fatigued. The muscles became overtired and are unable to absorb the shock of continuous effects, which cause the muscles to transfer all of the stress of impact to the bones. This transfer process then leads to a small crack or fraction developing in the bone.
Stress fractures most commonly occur along the major bones that are affected by walking, typically the feet, ankle or lower extremities. The most common site for these fractures is along the metatarsals or long bones between the toes and the middle portion of the foot.
Common Causes of Stress Breaks in the Foot or Ankle
Experiencing too much pressure over a compressed amount of time can lead to stress breaks in the foot and ankle. This means that doing too much too soon can cause these problems. Runners and athletes who have taken the winter off, often jump back in where they left off in the spring, only to find themselves with a stress fracture in the foot or ankle.
Improper running shoes can also lead to problems if the fit is inaccurate. Shoes that are overly worn or too stiff can lead to stress break related issues. Errors in training, poor surface quality and mechanical problems existing in the foot are also common causes of stress breaks.
Symptoms of a Stress Fracture in the Foot or Ankle
The most common sign of a fracture affecting the foot or ankle is pain. It is a pain that typically develops over time and noticeably increases during weight bearing activities. The pain typically falls during times of rest. Possible bruising at the site of the fraction may also occur, along with swelling to the top area of the foot or the outer portion of the ankle.
Another common symptom of a stress break is tenderness to the touch of the afflicted region. The ankle may be painful if touched or brushed against. The site of the fraction may result in severe pain if the area is pashed or moved.
Stress Fracture Treatment
The treatment plan for a stress break depends on the injury site. Minor stress fractures will heal over time if the level of activity is diminished and protective foot or ankle wear is worn for several weeks. Your specialist may recommend cushioned footwear or other devices that will brace and stabilize the affected area. Crutches may also be recommended to eliminate weight bearing on the injured site for 4 to 8 weeks.
In some cases, surgery may be the only answer. The surgery may be needed if the fraction is severe and proper healing has not taken place since periods of rest. Your orthopedic surgeon can work with you to come up with the best possible plan and income.