If you’re a physically active individual who enjoys running or other high-impact activities, you’re also at risk of experiencing a stress fracture. At North Florida Foot & Ankle Specialists, Joshua Epstein, DPM, AACFAS, FACPM, and Sarina Epstein, DPM, AACFAS, boast years of experience diagnosing and treating stress fractures. To make an appointment at the office in Gainesville or Lake City, Florida, call today.
What is a stress fracture?
A stress fracture is a small, hair-line crack in a bone. Often, they occur due to overuse from repetitive physical activities like running long distances or jumping up and down, but they can also occur due to an underlying condition that weakens your bones, like osteoporosis.
Stress fractures can occur anywhere in the body, but they’re especially common in the lower legs, ankles, and feet.
What are the symptoms of a stress fracture?
Symptoms of a stress fracture include:
- Pain or swelling
- A dull ache
- Pain that’s worse during physical activity
- Tenderness and sensitivity
Depending on the location of the stress fracture, you might also experience difficulty standing up or putting weight on your affected foot.
Who is at risk of experiencing a stress fracture?
Anyone can experience a stress fracture, but several factors increase your risk, including:
- Playing high-impact sports like football, basketball, or track and field
- Suddenly increasing the amount of exercise you do
- Being a woman
- Having a history of stress fractures
- Underlying foot conditions like flat feet or high arches
You’re also more likely to suffer a stress fracture if you have a nutritional deficiency and lack vitamin D or calcium.
How is a stress fracture diagnosed?
To diagnose a stress fracture, your North Florida Foot & Ankle Specialists provider reviews your medical history and asks about your symptoms. They examine your foot and ankle, looking for signs of swelling, bruising, or redness.
Next, your provider orders diagnostic imaging, like X-rays, a bone scan, or an MRI. These imaging procedures capture detailed photos of your hard and soft tissues and can determine the severity of your fracture.
How is a stress fracture treated?
Treatment of a stress fracture depends on its size, location, and the severity of your symptoms. Often, immobilization with a cast or a boot is enough to encourage your body’s natural healing process. You might also benefit from a combination of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (the RICE protocol).
In some cases, surgery might be necessary. During surgery for a stress fracture, your provider uses special tools to repair or stabilize the injury to your bone and prevent it from getting worse. Ultimately, the goal of treatment is to reduce swelling, ease the pain, and give your bone plenty of time to heal.
To learn more about the treatment of a stress fracture, make an appointment at North Florida Foot & Ankle Specialists by calling the nearest office today.