Stress fractures are injuries (tiny cracks) in a bone caused by overuse or continual force, from activities such as high impact sports (track and field/distance running, basketball), marching (seen in military recruits), repetitive everyday activities or poor biomechanics. Stress fractures can occur in any of the bones in the foot or leg, however the Tibia (shin) bone is the most common. In the foot the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal are the most commonly affected. While athletes are at greatest risk for stress fractures, they can affect anyone. Also being overweight and having conditions such as osteoporosis, which can weaken the bones, will put individuals at further risk.
People with stress fractures usually have swelling and pain which develops gradually, worsens with activities and subsides with rest. As the stress fracture progresses, the pain will usually become more constant (even when at rest) and increases in severity, with tenderness, swelling and possible bruising present.
- Custom made orthotics – to support the foot and improve overall foot biomechanics which will lower the risk of stress fractures in the foot, ankle and leg.
- Orthopedic footwear – properly fitted, strong, and structured, extra depth shoes to support and reduce stress on the foot structure.
- Shoe modifications – rocker soles, carbon fiber or full steel shank, metatarsal bars, to limit stress and impact on the foot.
Other Treatments/ Modalities
- Rest and change in activities to allow the the stress fracture to heal. Stress fractures typically take 6-8 weeks to heal.
- Cast or walking boot to immobilize the foot or leg while it heals
- Surgery is required in severe instances