Earthquakes are caused when rock breaks along a fault line. When this happens, the energy created by the break creates a seismic shock that makes the earth move and shake underneath your feet. The same is true when you sustain a stress fracture in your foot—the fault line is the stress fracture and the break is what could happen if you don’t tend to it. Instead of the shock beneath your feet, it’s inside your feet.
What are Stress Fractures?
A stress fracture is a small crack in your bone that develops from overuse. Usually, these cracks form in the weight-bearing bones of your feet on the second and third metatarsals, the heel, and the navicular bone near the midfoot. When the muscles in your feet grow tired and are no longer able to sustain the repeated shock you’re placing on your feet, they transfer that stress to the bones.
What Causes a Crack?
People who play tennis, basketball, track and field, and gymnastics are at a higher risk of developing a problem since their foot sustains pretty high impact on less-than-forgiving surfaces. However, it’s not just athletes that are prone. In fact, it’s just the opposite. People who are starting a new workout routine are sometimes not conditioned yet to handle the stress that their selected activity might put on their feet, which puts them at a greater risk. You might know the phrase “don’t be a hero.” Well, this phrase applies in this instance. We know you want to run 8 miles in your first run, but that’s just not good for you. Ease into it and you’ll avoid injuries that could put you out of game.
Other causes could be osteoporosis, new footwear, or an occupation that puts you on your feet more than you’re accustomed. Some people get stress fractures after simply walking a lot more than what’s usual for them.
It’s quite easy to treat a crack in the bone. However, it’s more difficult and takes longer to heal a bone after it’s been fractured. If you treat this problem early, it won’t develop into something more serious. The moment you feel pain, you should be concerned. Pain is never normal and it’s a good indicator that something’s gone wrong in your foot. At first, you may not feel a lot of pain during activity, but you’ll notice that it gradually gets worse over time. Rest usually gets rid of the pain, but it comes back when you return to physical activity. Swelling and tenderness could also be present.
Treating this Fault in the Bone
If you suspect a stress fracture, rest from activities completely and use ice on your foot. Keep the foot elevated and try not to walk on it until you get to the doctor. We’ll take an X-ray of your foot and ask you a series of questions to make sure we come to a correct diagnosis. This problem is usually treated with protective footwear, casts, and a period of rest, depending on the severity. Full recovery time should take six to eight weeks.
While you’re in recovery mode, you can stay active by exercising in low-impact activities like swimming and riding a bike. Try to stay away from any of the activities that caused the fracture. If you reinjure the area, it may never heal properly and you could risk developing arthritis later in life.
Treat stress fractures early so you can minimize the shock later on. Call Dr. Brandon Percival at Carolina Podiatry Group in (803) 285-1411 for Lancaster, (803) 548-FEET (3338) for Fort Mill, and (803) 285-1411 for Chester. Our office, which can also be found on Facebook and Pinterest, also serves the surrounding Charlotte area.