Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle
Foot and Ankle Specialist Serving Torrance
Stress fractures are overuse injuries, and they occur when muscles become
overtired and unable to minimize the shock of repetitive impacts. When
this happens, muscles will transfer stress to the bones, creating small
cracks or fractures.
Stress fractures are common in athletes, especially those who participate
in sports where there is a lot of running. They can also result from changes
in activity (new exercises or sudden increases in intensity), changes
in surfaces where physical activity is performed (soft to hard surfaces),
and diseases such as osteoporosis that can weaken bones. Experts have
also found that improper technique and poor conditioning can increase
risk of stress fractures.
The feet and ankles are especially susceptible to stress fractures due
to the forces they have to absorb in a range of physical movements and
activity. The most common sites of stress fractures in the foot and ankle
are the second and third metatarsals of the foot, as they are longer and
thinner than the first metatarsal and because they absorb the most impact
during walking or running. Stress fractures can also affect the calcaneus
(heel), the navicular (bone on top of the midfoot), and the fibula (outer
bone in the lower leg).
Treating Stress Fractures in the Foot and Ankle
Because stress fractures are commonly linked to overuse, nonsurgical treatment
largely centers on rest and a decrease in the repetitive activity that
caused the injury. Treatment will also vary depending on where the stress
fracture is located and how severe it is.
Aside from rest, casting can be used to protect the bone while it heals,
and to prevent patients from continuing physical activity that caused
the stress fracture. Typically, stress fractures will heal in 6 to 8 weeks,
and physical therapy and stretching following the removal of a cast can
help improve function, flexibility, and range of motion. Patients should
modify activities or find alternatives that place less stress on the foot
as they heal. A return to physical activity following healing should also
be done gradually.
In some cases, severe stress fractures may require surgery in order for
them to properly heal. Surgical approaches will commonly involve internal
fixation using pins, screws, or metal to support and hold small bones
of the foot and ankle in place as they heal.
The ultimate objective of any treatment approach is to help you return
to the activities you enjoy.
Request an Appointment
Whether or not you are an athlete, stress fractures can greatly limit your
mobility and cause significant pain during daily activities. Get the support
and comprehensive care you need by working with a South Bay foot and ankle
specialist from Torrance Memorial Physician Network. Call today to request