Brief Outline of Stress Fracture
Stress fractures in the foot are usually a result of repetitive impact to the bones of the feet. Running or jumping on the hard surfaces, changing the duration or distance of workouts too quickly or fatigued muscles that can no longer absorb shock can lead to small cracks in the bone. The small cracks accumulate and become a stress fracture.
Anatomy and Physiology Stress Fracture
A stress fracture can occur in any of the bones of the foot but are generally seen in the metatarsals. The heel bone, or calcaneus, can also become fractured with improper footwear or as the result of an old injury that has gone untreated. The bones subjected to repetitive trauma develop minor cracks and then these cracks build on each other leading to a stress fracture. A weak point in the bone from a previous injury or due to bone rebuilding can lead to stress fractures under normal stress conditions.
Cause of Stress Fracture
Repetitive trauma to the bones of the foot. Weakened area of bone due to previous injury or other condition. Muscle fatigue, making the muscles ineffective shock absorbers.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress Fracture
Pain at the site of the fracture. Pain with weight bearing, with inability to walk in severe cases. Swelling may be noted over the fracture site. Some loss of foot function may be noted.
Complications If Left Stress Fracture Unattended
More serious stress fracture including a complete break in the bone may occur if left unattended. Swelling and inflammation may cause blood flow and nerve problems in the foot. Pain may increase to the point of disability and inability to walk.
Immediate Treatment for Stress Fracture
RICE (Rest, Ice. Compression, Elevation). Anti-inflammatory medication or injection.
Long-term Prognosis for Stress Fracture
Stress fractures will usually heal completely and have no lingering effects if rest and rehabilitation are used. The fracture site should heal to become stronger than it was originally. Only in severe cases where the bone fractures completely and does not respond to rest and immobolisation, will surgery required.