What is a stress fracture in the foot?

Updated on 25 March 2023

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Have you ever been diagnosed with a stress fracture? Your feet can suffer fatigue and stress as well! In the long term, this might result in a fracture. But what is a stress fracture, exactly? The mechanical meaning is that repetitive stress, strain, or impact can cause bone problems, particularly in the foot. This sort of injury, while initially painless, should be handled with care. Is it best to see a podiatrist right away? Here are some pointers for maintaining good foot health… without stress.

Stress fracture overview

Athletes are likely to be familiar with the term “stress fracture,” since they have experienced this sort of injury as a result of their rigorous sports training. Active persons and manual laborers, on the other hand, are not always well protected from stress fractures.

Any repetitive exercise or misuse of any portion of the human body causes early wear and tear on the joint tissues, as well as a danger of a reduction in the muscle ability to absorb the pressures exerted, especially in the case of heavy loads. One of the probable outcomes is that the bones in the stressed area are scooped out, making them more unstable. Small bone cracks indicate brittleness, which might progress to localized damage over time. This is referred to as a fatigue fracture.

Stress fractures in the foot are common among joggers, hikers, and tennis players, for example. The damage they experience is microscopic and mitigated by the natural process of bone remodeling, so it is unlikely to be restored with further stress and training. The equilibrium of bone density (old tissue/new tissue) is frequently disrupted in the second and third metatarsals, resulting in stress fractures.

What causes a stress fracture?

Sport and physical exercise continue to be good to overall health and load-bearing bones thanks to the strengthening effect. There is no suggestion here that a sedentary lifestyle is desirable. However, the process of bone fragility, which is a precursor to fatigue fractures, frequently begins when a person attempts a new activity or abruptly increases the duration or intensity of his or her typical sport. For example, a runner may be apprehensive about continuing up where he or she left off the previous season and may begin training without giving the body enough time to heal.

Other recognized reasons include poor technique from the beginning of a repetitive action, such as walking, or kinetic changes caused by “irritants” such as foot blisters, tendinitis, hallux valgus (bunion), and so on. When the foot meets the ground, these aberrations impair the natural mechanics of shock absorption; as a result, a region may be subjected to unnecessary stress due to the person’s morphology.

Similarly, wearing worn-out or “spongy” footwear and playing a sport on a different surface (concrete vs. clay in tennis; asphalt vs. treadmill, etc.) increases the chance of a stress fracture. Shoes that are both comfortable and adaptable are essential for the protection of your feet.

Furthermore, even in persons who do not participate in sports actively, certain diseases (such as osteoporosis), deficiencies (vitamin D in the winter), and dietary problems lead to the weakening of bones and the formation of stress fractures.

Podiatric treatments for relieving fatigue fractures

A stress fracture in the foot, unlike most other fractures that require a cast, can be treated in a variety of ways depending on its severity, which is diagnosed by a podiatrist following an X-ray or ultrasound. Therapeutic taping, therapeutic laser treatment, foot orthotics, physical therapy, and, in extreme situations, bone surgery are all options for treatment. Find out more about the various podiatric treatment options here.

Your podiatrist will make a difference

Too many people accept foot discomfort as an unavoidable occurrence. It does not have to be that way, though. You can keep active while preserving your foot health! When it comes to bone problems, the damage worsens with time (stress fractures are a good example). This is why early intervention is so critical. So, if you are at risk or suffering pain, be sure to alter your workouts and get a yearly foot exam.
We are specialized in foot health. If you suspect you have a stress fracture, do not wait for it to become worse; contact FootNetwork – a network of over 40 podiatry clinics in Quebec.

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