Stress fracture foot problems occur because of overuse of the body part. They usually are caused by a mechanical fault in the muscles around a bone leading to transferring of the tension to the bones themselves. When muscles are overworked, they become less adapted to stress. Bones in turn, receive greater shock which may lead to a crack forming.

Stress fractures can happen in the hands, legs and feet, but the most common type is a stress fracture is in the foot. Stress fractures in the feet are commonly located on the metatarsal region. Stress fractures are caused by factors such as lack of conditioning before doing high impact activities involving the foot, improper shoes and sports equipment, wrong training techniques that add stress to the foot, weak bones, and aging. The exercise need not be excessive if you are out of condition, and have just started to get exercise.

Symptoms of Stress Fracture Foot Trouble Include:

  • Pain on top of the foot since the metatarsal is most commonly affected. Can occur gradually, or after a trauma. Pain may be severe but will be relieved by rest
  • Tenderness on the site of crack
  • Top of foot swelling
  • Bruising at the fracture site
  • Limited movement of the foot
  • Affected area is warm to touch, distal areas are cold and clammy
  • Redness around the injured part

Diagnosis of stress fractures includes imaging exams such as X-rays, MRI scan or bone scans. X-rays and MRI detect fractures while bone scans determine bone density and possible risks for fractures such as osteoporosis. Imaging tests help to validate diagnosis. However these fractures are often small, and may not be able to be seen clearly under X-ray, and usually not until healing has occurred for at least 2 weeks.

First Aid Treatment and Long Term Management

First management for a stress fracture is stopping the activity which caused it at once. Further injury may result when continued tension on the foot is experienced. Ice packs should be placed on the affected area to control swelling and pain. Splint the foot to immobilize the area and prevent further injury. Try not to bear weight on the affected foot as much as possible.

Management of any stress fracture aims to enhance the range of motion of the extremity involved and return to its optimum level of functioning. Healing will be fastest with supportive and palliative management. Casts are sometimes needed to maintain the feet in a neutral position as the bones heal and return to their proper place. Since mobility is affected, the individual may use crutches to aid with ambulation until the casts are removed and bone healing is complete. When casts are not needed for stress fractures of the foot, protective footwear may be used to support the fractured foot.

Stress fractures in the foot normally heal after approximately 6 weeks. During this time, rest is required to avoid undue tension on the foot. Simple aerobic exercises can be undertaken to promote healing. However, a physician should be consulted before engaging in any exercises that may involve the affected foot. In severe cases, internal fixation is performed which involves surgery to place fasteners in the form of screws, pins or plates on the bones to hold them together and hasten the healing process. This is only completed for persistent or severe stress fractures. Maintaining a healthy diet composed of Vitamin D and calcium may also help in reducing the healing time.

Author's Bio: 

Stress fractures can be an annoyance or a considerable pain. However stress fractures can also be just the tip of the iceberg, and may indicate something more serious is wrong. It pays to find out what is causing the problem, why fractures are developing and what can be done. For that, a doctor's visit is best.