Stress Fractures of the Feet
Stress fractures are "hairline" fractures brought on by repetitive stress to an area, often a foot. The most common area for this injury to occur are the metatarsal bones or "long bones".
As opposed to traumatic fractures, where there is separation of bone at the fracture site or joint, there is no displacement of the fracture. Often the fracture cannot be seen on an X-ray until about 10 days after the fracture occurs. The fracture is visualized only when a bony "callous" forms to help secure and heal the fracture.
Stress fractures rarely require surgery. Off-loading weight to the site will allow the fracture to heal over time. This can be accomplished with either a surgical shoe or a walking boot. Sometimes a bone stimulator or physical therapy may be needed. If left untreated, the fracture site may become a source of chronic pain or arthritis.
After the fracture heals, attention should be directed at preventing recurrence. An orthotic, placed in the shoe, should alleviate the stress to the affected area, and prevent the fracture from happening again. This is particularly effective for athletes.
If your are experiencing prolonged foot pain, do not delay- you may have a stress fracture.