Foot Stress Fractures: Symptoms, Healing & Prevention

March 20, 2019 2:17 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Many active people like runners can suffer from feet injuries, and one very common and very painful problem is a stress fracture.

Let’s explore signs you may have fractured your foot and what you can do to recover.

Foot pain stress fracture

What is a Foot Stress Fracture?

Stress fractures are very tiny cracks in your bone, and in the case of feet, can form almost anywhere, from your toes to your heel.

When your foot muscles become fatigued from overuse, your muscles aren’t well equipped to absorb shock from impact. When your muscles are exhausted, the stress gets transferred to your bones to pick up the slack.

Unfortunately, excess weight or repetitive impact in one area can then create fractures.

Who Gets Stress Fractures?

Foot stress fractures are a common injury for runners, who often push their muscles past their limits and experience high-intensity, repetitive impact. For these people, it’s usually a slow-building issue that’s triggered by a sudden bout of pain.

Runner’s aren’t alone: those who do any sort of repetitive exercise or activity can suffer from this injury. For example, nurses, servers and others who stand on their feet for hours a day are at risk of foot fracture.

Foot Stress Fracture

The elderly are often sufferers too, as their bone strength is worn with age. Or,  someone who experiences a sudden impact like jumping from a high structure can either break, sprain or fracture areas of their foot, often their heel.

Even those who wear worn or stiff shoes have preexisting conditions like flatfoot, misalignment or bunions, or athletes with improper form or technique can fracture their foot or ankle

Foot Stress Fracture Symptoms

If you are experiencing gradual foot pain with activity, which increases with weight-bearing tension, you may have a stress fracture.

Because your bone is cracked, you will often have swelling with the pain, which reduces with rest. Check too for tenderness around the area of pain.

If you suspect you may have fractured your foot, consult a podiatrist right away. Ignoring the pain and continuing activity can worsen the injury, and even cause it to develop into a full broken bone. A doctor can determine if you have a fracture by taking an x-ray.

Foot Stress Fracture Healing Time

Once the fracture is confirmed, treatments vary depending on the location of the injury and its severity.

Most foot fractures heal by ceasing or dramatically reducing activity (or switching to low-impact exercise like swimming) for any time between two to eight weeks.

You’ll likely be placed in a cast, walking boot or a stiff-soled shoe to reduce impact as the bone repairs itself. If you don’t allow your bone break to properly heal, it can develop into cracks in the bone, and in some cases, may require surgery to correct.

Stress Fracture in Foot

Preventing a Foot Stress Fracture

When undergoing activity, be sure to check your form, as poor technique can lead to overuse and cause stress fractures. Listen to your body as well. If you’re feeling fatigued and getting sloppy, your muscles aren’t protecting your bones they way that should be.

Also, be sure to make adjustments gradually, so that you aren’t gearing up intensity rapidly and stressing your muscles too harshly.

Ensure you wear properly fitted shoes for the activity you are doing, and that the footwear isn’t overly worn. Here are some more tips form Sports Health to prevent foot stress fractures.

Don’t Stress— Get Checked

If you’re stressing about a possible stress fracture, don’t wait. Quick diagnosis and proper healing will get you back on your feet again faster, with less pain.

Our podiatrists understand that fractures and breaks often take priority over other foot problems, and we always try to make same day appointments for those suspecting a stress fracture.

Give us a call at 239.936.5400 to get your diagnosis and the healing hands you need, today.

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Welcome, Dr. Elaine Felix!


Dr. Felix has extensive training in treating all aspects of the foot and ankle including arthroscopy, sports injuries, trauma, reconstructive surgery, wound care, as well as forefoot and mid-foot surgery.
We are so excited to have her join our team!
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