Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are small, fine cracks that can happen in the bones of the feet. Stress fractures occur when the affected bones are not able to bear the weight placed on them. They are often the result of repetitive overuse and injury from activities such as running, jumping, or dancing and are therefore common in athletes. Stress fractures are also more likely to occur in people who have other health conditions, such as osteoporosis, bunions, tendinitis, or abnormal foot biomechanics. 

While stress fractures can occur in any bone in the foot, they are most common in the metatarsal bones, the calcaneus bone, and navicular bone. The metatarsal bones are in the center of the foot and connect the toes to the rest of the midfoot region. The second and third metatarsal bones, which connect the second and third toes to the midfoot, are the most likely bones to incur a stress fracture. The calcaneus, or heel bone, is located at the back of the foot and is the second most common site of stress fractures in the feet. The navicular bone is located near the top of the foot. 

The symptoms of a stress fracture include pain, tenderness, weakness, bruising, and swelling. This can lead to difficulty putting weight on the affected foot, which may change your gait or manner of walking. Symptoms usually have a gradual onset and become progressively worse over time. Without treatment, a stress fracture may progress to a full fracture, in which the bone breaks completely. The affected bone can also move out of proper alignment, causing more pain. 

Stress fractures are diagnosed through a physical examination. Imaging studies, such as X-rays, bone scans, ultrasounds, or MRIs may be needed to confirm the diagnosis or to rule out other causes for your symptoms. Treatment for a stress fracture depends on the severity of the injury. You may be asked to cease certain weight-bearing activities and to rest, ice, compress, and elevate the affected foot to help it heal. Protective footwear, a cast, or crutches may be provided to protect and stabilize your foot while it heals. Surgery may be necessary if the stress fracture has occurred in an area that does not typically heal well through non-surgical means, such as the sesamoid bones. 

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a stress fracture in your foot, please consult with a chiropodist. 

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