Stress fractures, sometimes referred to as hairline fractures, are a common injury that podiatrists see regularly in their offices. Usually a patient will present with symptoms like tenderness in the area of the fracture, as well as swelling. Patients usually seek out medical attention when the pain and swelling worsens over time, sometimes even to the point of causing limping.
Stress fractures are tiny cracks on the surface of the bone that can be hard to detect even with x-rays. An experienced podiatrist will either use x-rays, bone tests, or an MRI to properly diagnose stress fractures. Often the podiatrist will take an initial x-ray and then schedule another x-ray for two to four weeks in the future to compare the two x-rays. A stress fracture will show a cloudy area around the fracture, where the body is sending calcium to help heal the injury, a sure sign that a stress fracture has occurred.
Stress fractures are not caused by acute injuries, but rather by small repetitive injuries over a period of time. High impact exercise routines,distance running, and even long hard hours standing on unforgiving surfaces can cause stress fractures. Sometimes when there is a sudden increase in intensity of regular activities over a short period of time, like logging more miles while running, can cause a stress fracture.
Treatment of stress fractures focuses on removing weight bearing from the area of injury. Often your podiatrist will prescribe a walking boot or brace in order to shift weight of of the fracture. In some cases your podiatrist will recommend either crutches or a walking scooter to further offload weight from the fracture. A decrease of activities that aggravate the area is often recommended as well. It is better to take some time off of a running or workout routine that to risk worsening the fracture.
If you suspect a stress fracture then the sooner you head to the podiatrist the sooner they can properly diagnose the injury and create a custom plan for healing. The doctors and staff at Ankle & Foot Associates, LLC are experienced with successfully treating stress fractures and are happy to help get you back on your feet again, pain free.