Stress fractures are one of the most common overuse injuries, and you may not realize you have one. If you have pain in your foot and ankle, don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment with board-qualified podiatrist Sheryl Hanawalt, DPM, at Woodlake Podiatry, LLC, in Chesterfield, Missouri. Dr. Hanawalt is experienced in diagnosing and treating stress fractures. Call the office or use the online booking tool today.
A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone. It’s usually an overuse injury, resulting from repetitive stress, especially from activities that involve running and jumping. They’re especially common in the feet and ankles because those bones are responsible for bearing your weight and absorbing the impact of your everyday activities.
Many people get stress fractures after changing their activities and not allowing enough time to heal between sessions. That can include trying a new activity or dramatically increasing the intensity of your workouts.
Note that there’s no fixed, universal definition of “overuse” — it’s a matter of what you’re used to. Even people who aren’t particularly physically active can get stress fractures.
A stress fracture usually causes only minor discomfort at first and gets worse with further repetitive activity. A telltale sign that you have a stress fracture is that the pain gets worse during activity and fades when you rest.
Dr. Hanawalt offers in-house radiography services, including X-ray, MRI, and bone scans, to precisely diagnose stress fractures. Though it’s sometimes possible to diagnose a stress fracture by examining your foot and asking about your symptoms, imaging tests allow Dr. Hanawalt to rule out other causes of your pain, such as plantar fasciitis.
To allow your stress fracture to heal, it’s important to avoid putting weight on the affected foot. Dr. Hanawalt may recommend a walking boot or crutches. At home, it helps to follow the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) protocol and to manage the pain with anti-inflammatory medication.
You can usually exercise while you recover from your stress fracture, though Dr. Hanawalt may recommend an initial period of rest. However, you may need to switch to activities that don’t require your feet to bear weight, such as swimming. As you heal, you can slowly and gradually reintroduce high-impact activities like running into your routine.
Most stress fractures heal within 6-8 weeks with conservative treatment.
You can often prevent stress fractures by taking steps to minimize the pressure you put on your feet and ankles, including:
Don’t ignore a stress fracture. If your foot or ankle bothers you when you exercise, schedule an appointment at Woodlake Podiatry online or over the phone.