Stress Fracture: An Almost Broken Bone

Small issues tend to grow bigger under pressure unless someone intervenes. A crack in a bridge, or a split in a dress, for example, will become more serious if cars continue to drive on the structure or you start pulling on the fabric. You can develop your own little breaks in your feet with that same risk called a stress fracture. Most people do not consider these as significant as a regular broken bone, but they can cause real problems for your feet.

Starting Small

A stress fracture is a small break in a bone. It is painful and can become more serious if left untreated. Unlike a usual broken bone, though, which involves a complete split from a single injury, this fracture is more like a crack developed over time. The shallow fissure grows as the result of repeated pressure and impacts on the foot. Your limb becomes over-stressed and unable to continue absorbing pressure, so the bone splits.

Athletes are particularly prone to this condition, though any person who puts a lot of pressure on the lower limbs is susceptible to the problem. Your risk is particularly high if you have thin bones, are overweight, or haven’t exercised consistently. Training improperly or failing to condition your lower limbs for any of your high-impact activities can strain the bones and cause cracks as well.

Usually the pain is specific to the affected area. The discomfort is usually worst when you put weight on the injured foot, and improves somewhat when you relax. You may or may not have swelling and redness around the painful spot. Sometimes a bruise develops as well. Usually, that area is tender to the touch. The real risk of a stress fracture is that it could become a full break, increasing the severity of your injury and the intensity of your pain.

Healing the Break

Restoring the foot from this injury does take time; however, allowing the split to progress and break completely would be far worse for your lower limbs and require a longer recovery. When you notice the painful symptoms in your foot, have the limb carefully examined by our team here at NorthPointe Foot & Ankle. Our staff will use diagnostic images and other tests to identify the crack and its specific location. Then, we can help you begin treatment.

Typically, conservative treatments are highly effective for this type of injury. You’ll need to take a break from your activities to allow your foot to rest and heal. In some cases, this may mean immobilizing your foot in a special boot, cast, or protective shoe for a time. You’ll also need to discourage swelling and inflammation. Ice the injured area and keep the foot elevated when you can. We may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications to help with the discomfort. Once your foot has recovered, you’ll need to ease back into your activities. Physical therapy to rebuild your strength and condition your feet to handle stress may benefit you.

While a stress fracture may not carry the severity of a fully broken bone, it is still a serious concern. This condition can make it very painful to continue your activities, and puts you at risk for more serious problems later. Don’t take a small crack for granted; contact NorthPointe Foot & Ankle here in Berkley, MI, for an appointment to take care of your lower limbs. Submit a request through our website or call us directly at (248) 545-0100 to make an appointment.