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Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle

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 an appointment.