Most cases of stress fractures on the foot typically affect the 2nd and 3rd metatarsals in the foot. A stress fracture is essentially an overuse injury which develops as the muscles are fatigued or overloaded as well as unable to absorb the shock and stress of repeated impact.
Always bear in mind that this part of the foot endures most of the impact from pushing off to walk or run. The fractures can also occur in the heel or the navicular which is the bone on top of the foot.
Causes of stress fractures on the foot
The stress fractures on the foot are typically due to overuse and overtraining. The bones in the lower leg and foot are prone to fractures since they are weight-bearing bones.
This form of injury is quite common among runners and athletes who engage in high impact sports such as volleyball, gymnastics, soccer and tennis. These sports involve repetitive stress from striking the foot on hard surfaces which leads to muscle fatigue and trauma.
Stress fractures are likely to occur when an individual makes rapid changes in his/her physical activity. Trying out a new form of exercise, abruptly increasing the length or intensity of workouts, using worn out shoes or changing the running surface can lead to fractures. In addition, certain conditions such as osteoporosis can put individuals at higher risk to the injury just be engaging in daily activities.
What are the symptoms?
Always bear in mind that pain is the usual symptom of stress fractures. Any form of weight-bearing activity even walking can worsen the pain. The other symptoms that might manifest include the following:
- Pain while performing normal, daily activities
- Pain that diminishes during rest
- Swollen foot
When a stress fracture is suspected, a doctor should be consulted right away. If the individual ignores the pain, it can result to grim consequences. The doctor can diagnose a stress fracture on the foot based on the medical history, physical exam and the symptoms. In addition, a MRI or X-ray might be carried out to confirm a diagnosis.
Most cases of stress fracture do not require surgery. The treatment typically involves the RICE method. Taking a break from the routine and including low impact exercises can help the bone heal. Most cases of fractures take 6-8 weeks to fully heal. Oftentimes, the doctor might require the use of protective casts and footwear.
When the injury is completely healed and pain is absent, the doctor will allow the individual to resume activity at a steady manner, usually alternating between days of activity and rest. The bones require time to get accustomed to pressure again. If the proper recovery measures are not taken into consideration, chronic issues such as bigger and recurrent fractures can develop and the injury might not heal properly.