What is it? Stress fractures are small micro-fractures in the bones of the feet, most likely caused by overuse or repetitive activity placing strain on certain bones. They normally present in the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones due to the shape of these bones and the amount of load they are required to take during activity. Other bones regularly affected are the calcaneus (heel), talus (within the ankle complex) and the navicular (bone in the midfoot).
Signs and symptoms: stress fractures generally present themselves as a dull ache in the bone/ area of foot both when weightbearing and non-weightbearing.
They are most commonly seen in runners and athletes who participate in running or jumping sports, such as soccer and basketball, but may also develop with lower intensity activity in those with low bone density conditions such as osteoporosis.
Stress fractures usually develop with a sudden change in activity or changes to workout surfaces. Wearing inappropriate footwear for the activity level may also play a part.
Diagnosis can be made by your Podiatrist with a series of manual assessments during the consultation and medical imaging.
Offloading the area for several weeks is normally effective in allowing healing to occur. Your Podiatrist will discuss the alternatives to offload the area and once the injury has healed implement a tailored rehabilitation program to strengthen tissues required for return to activity.