What is a Stress Fracture?
A stress fracture is an overuse injury that commonly develops in the metatarsal (feet) bones. A stress fracture is a tiny crack that forms in the bone over a period of time; this can be caused by repetitive force and trauma to the forefoot such as running and jumping. Stress fractures can occur in any bone in the body but are most common in the foot because the foot consistently bears the weight of the body in addition to constantly absorbing the impact during physical activities like sports.
Although a stress fracture is not the same as Metatarsalgia, a stress fracture may lead to metatarsalgia. You are able to absorb the impact and stress with an ankle brace so that you are able to continue with your regular activities.
What causes a Stress Fracture?
Stress fractures can be caused for a number of reasons. It is most common in sporting athletes due to the constant force and pressure that is applied to the foot during certain activities like running and jumping.
Running and jumping in general will not cause stress fractures although factors such as incorrect footwear, ill-fitting shoes, or over-prolonged running and jumping excessively can lead to stress fractures. Another factor that can cause stress fractures is bearing excessive weight that your feet are not accustomed to supporting – causing a lot of stress on the ball of the foot for a long period of time will cause a stress fracture.
Treating a Stress Fracture
Treatments for a stress fracture will vary from case to case, but the main course of action for treating a stress fracture is to rest the foot – avoid any excessive weight bearing or high impact exercises. It is recommended that you seek professional medical advice if you are unsure about your injury as each person’s pain threshold differs.
Stress fractures become an issue when the pain caused by bearing weight on the forefoot becomes prominent. A few ways to treat the pain are:
- Applying ice to the affected area 2-3 times a day for 5-10 minutes a day.
- Pain relief medications such as Analgesics
- Exercises/stretches may be provided by your physiotherapist
- Other physiotherapist treatments such as soft tissue massage