A stress fracture is severe bruising or a small crack in the bone. These injuries are common among runners and also athletes who are involved in running sports like basketball and soccer. Stress fractures arise when a person changes their activities. Fractures can also occur when a person is suffering from osteoporosis or some similar disease that weakens their bones. To determine whether you have a stress fracture in your foot, you need to know where it is likely to occur, what causes it, the symptoms associated with this injury, and conditions that mimic stress fractures.
Where Do Stress Fractures Affect?
Stress fractures affect the metatarsals in your foot. When walking or running, the metatarsals are the main areas that are greatly impacted. Stress fractures can also occur in the heel, the outer bone of your ankle and lower leg, the small bone in your ankle joint, and the bone above your mid-foot.
What Causes a Stress Fracture?
A majority of stress fractures are regarded as overuse injuries. Overuse fractures arise when an athletic activity or movement is repeated often. The supporting muscles and weight-bearing bones in your foot do not have sufficient time to heal during exercise sessions.
Another cause of stress fracture is the interruption of the bone’s remodeling process. Your bones are constantly in a state of turnover. This means that new bone is always been replaced by older bone. When an athlete’s activity is excessively great, the older bone breaks down rapidly and outpaces your body’s ability for repairing and replacing it. This causes your bone to grow weak and susceptible to stress fractures.
Many cases of stress fractures arise when a person increases their physical activity. Such an increase can be the result of the frequency of a particular activity like increasing the days you exercise in a given week. It may also be in the form of increasing the intensity or duration of an activity like running for a longer period of time.
Bone fractures can also be caused by conditions like osteoporosis. These conditions decrease your bone’s density and strength making you more vulnerable to a stress fracture.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Stress Fracture?
The most common way to identify a stress fracture in your foot is pain. You will experience pain that develops slowly and gets worse when you continue engaging in weight bearing activities. The other symptoms you should watch out for include:
Pain that goes away when you rest
- Pain that intensifies as you engage in your normal activities
- Swelling on the exterior part of your ankle or above your foot
- Tenderness at the area of the foot that is causing you pain
What Conditions Are Easily Confused With Stress Fractures?
Some of the conditions you can mistake for a stress fracture are:
- Sprains: These damage the ligament that stabilize your foot joint
- Strains: These damage your muscle ortendon
- Referred pain from the back: These include conditions such as arthritis or sciatica in the low back of your foot
- Morton’s neuroma: This is a growth that affects the nerve that lies between the third and fourth toes of your foot.
Summing It Up
If you suspect you are suffering from a stress fracture, and the pain persists even after you rest or apply first aid, you need to consult a doctor. Your doctor may use surgical or non-surgical methods to relieve the pain. However, many cases of stress fractures are relieved by elevating the foot, placing ice on the affected area, or taking a break from rigorous activity.