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Mitchell Wachtel D.P.M.

A Stress Fracture Needs Medical Care, Too

It seems it would be obvious if you had a broken bone in your foot. You wouldn’t be able to walk, your foot would be swollen and bruised, and the pain would be unbearable, right? Well, maybe not. Even if you notice only tenderness or mild pain in your feet, you might be suffering from a stress fracture. That doesn’t mean it’s not serious. Just as with a more extensive fracture, you need to get help from a medical professional so that further injury does not occur.

What is a Stress Fracture?

It is essentially a small crack in the bone that is caused by overuse of a certain part of the body. It is often an athletic injury that is found especially in those who use their lower bodies a lot. That means if you participate in track and field, gymnastics, dance, tennis, basketball, etc., you are at a higher risk of developing this condition.

The most common places for this problem to occur are the metatarsals, the calcaneus (heel), the navicular (a bone on top of the midfoot), and the fibula. If you notice foot pain that gets worse with activity and better with rest, you may have a stress fracture. Other symptoms may include swelling, tenderness, and bruising. These signs could also occur with other conditions, however, so you should come in to our office and get a proper diagnosis as soon as possible.

What Can Cause These Small Breaks?

The most common reason is simply because of overuse. The repeated motion of your foot striking the ground can lead to trauma. If you increase your activity level too much, too quickly, you may be susceptible to these small cracks. It is very important to step up your physical activity gradually. If you wear shoes that do not fit properly, or train on surfaces that are very hard, you may also be at a higher risk. Be sure that you treat any other existing conditions that may alter the way you run as well. This can include bunions, blisters, or plantar fasciitis. Lastly, the condition of your bones may increase the likeliness of suffering from a stress fracture. If your bones are very weak, it is not a good idea to put extra strain on them.

Treatment Options for Cracks in Your Bones

One of the worst things you can do for this type of break is to push through the pain. Do not ever assume foot pain will just disappear. Getting treatment will help avoid further complications and will also aid in hastening the healing period. The first thing you need to do is rest your foot. Stop doing the activity that is causing your pain. You can also apply ice to help with any swelling that may occur. Wearing sturdy footwear can help protect your feet. You may even need to immobilize the foot with a cast or a boot for a period of time while the bone is healing. In some cases surgery may be required. The most beneficial type of surgery is called internal fixation and utilizes plates to help support the bones.

If you have questions about treating a stress fracture, call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in our Andover area offices in Massachusetts.