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Think You May Have a Stress Fracture? Consider These Steps

Think You May Have a Stress Fracture? Consider These Steps

Stress fractures are a common overuse injury caused by repetitive strain on your bones. They can affect people of all ages and activity levels, from athletes and runners to those who spend long hours on their feet. 

Regardless of how you sustained a stress fracture in your foot, the result is pain and discomfort! If you suspect you may have a stress fracture, it’s important to confirm it so you can get started with the right treatment and prevent further damage. Board-certified podiatrist Michael V. Tran, DPM, expertly diagnoses and treats stress fractures at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center in Arlington and Dallas, Texas. 

In the meantime, here’s what you need to do if you spot the signs of a stress fracture.

Understanding stress fractures

A stress fracture is a tiny crack in a bone that occurs due to excessive, repetitive force or stress. While they can happen in various bones, they commonly occur in the lower extremities, such as the shin, foot, and ankle.

 Risk factors for developing a stress fracture include:

Female athletes, people in the military, and runners have the highest chances of developing a stress fracture. Whatever contributed to your stress fracture, the result is often painful and debilitating. The good news is that they can heal successfully with early recognition and appropriate care.

Recognizing the signs

The most common signs of a stress fracture in your feet include: 

Pain

Persistent pain during or after physical activity is a primary symptom of a stress fracture. This pain can range from mild discomfort to a sharp, localized ache.

Swelling

Swelling may occur at the site of the fracture, and the area can become tender to the touch.

Changes in activity

Stress fractures often worsen with continued activity and improve with rest. If you notice that your pain subsides during rest but returns during activity, it's a potential sign of a stress fracture.

Steps to consider if you spot these symptoms 

If you experience pain that increases with activity that subsides with rest, consider these steps:

Rest

The most crucial step in healing a stress fracture is to rest the affected area, which may involve temporarily discontinuing activities that place stress on the injured bone.

Ice and elevation

Applying ice to the affected area and elevating the injured limb can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. Some cold compresses feature soft fleece and velcro attachments to keep the ice pack on your foot.

Anti-inflammatory medications

Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, as recommended by Dr. Tran, can assist in managing pain and swelling. 

Podiatric evaluation

Many other conditions can also cause foot pain, but Dr. Tran can diagnose your condition through a physical examination and, if needed, imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans.

Follow treatment recommendations

If he confirms a stress fracture, follow the treatment plan recommended by Dr. Tran, which may include immobilization, such as wearing a cast or boot and adhering to a gradual return to activity.

Prevent recurrence

Once your stress fracture has healed, take steps to prevent a recurrence by gradually increasing activity levels, using proper footwear, maintaining a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, and focusing on strength and flexibility exercises. If you’re a runner, you may find that adhering to the 10% rule is key to preventing future stress fractures.

Do you have symptoms of a stress fracture? 

Recognizing the signs of a stress fracture and taking prompt action is crucial for a successful recovery. Even if your pain is minor initially, don’t brush off the symptoms. Treating a stress fracture immediately helps prevent complications, such as nonunion or delayed union. 

If you suspect you have a stress fracture, Call AllCare Foot & Ankle Center or schedule an appointment online right away.

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