Usually, when we think about a broken bone, we imagine an acute fracture – the kind that occurs as the result of a fall or other trauma. The injury results in a sudden break that causes immediate and intense pain. But there’s another kind of bone injury that you should know about. A stress fracture is the result of repetitive injury to the same area. It begins as a hairline fissure in the bone and causes pain that begins as slight discomfort and progresses over a period of time. Stress fractures often occur in the feet, ankles, and lower legs.
Athletes such as runners, dancers, soccer players and basketball players who put repetitive stress on their legs and feet are most at risk of stress fractures, particularly when an aspect of training is changed, like new shoes or a different running surface. An intensified regimen is also a risk. Athletes should be particularly cautious when engaging in longer or more frequent workouts, perhaps in preparation for a race or event.
It’s important to know the signs of a stress fracture. Undetected and untreated, these injuries will only get worse and become harder to treat. Be alert to:
- Deep aching pain
- Dull or aching pain, especially if you notice that it occurs with activity and improves with rest
- Pain that doesn’t improve despite RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation)
- Pain that gets worse in the evening or at night
- Pain that coincides with an increase in training or intensity
The good news is that stress fractures rarely require surgical treatment. After diagnosis, your podiatrist will have a variety of treatment options at his or her disposal, including:
- over the counter and prescription medications for pain and inflammation
- custom orthotics for cushioning and support
- physical therapy
- immobilization with a cast or boot
If you’re worried that you have developed a stress fracture, or if you have any other concerns about the health and well-being of your feet, ankles, or lower legs, it’s time for a visit to the foot doctor. With years of specialized education and experience, your podiatrist is the best-qualified professional to help you with these problems. Contact us online or call Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. at 410-224-4448 to schedule a convenient appointment with Dr. James M. McKee in our comfortable office in Annapolis, MD. Dr. McKee will provide you with a comprehensive examination culminating in a specific and accurate diagnosis, then work with you to create an individualized and effective plan for treatment and follow up care.