Signs of a Stress Fracture

Are you a runner? Perhaps you play a team sport. Maybe you have a job that involves a lot of stress on your legs. If you develop pain in your foot, ankle, or shin, you could have a stress fracture. 

Dr. Michael Hood, board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, treats numerous cases of stress fractures. These injuries are commonly caused by overuse, so athletes are at increased risk of this type of fracture. 

One of Dr. Hood’s specialties is sports medicine. When you become Dr. Hood’s patient, he provides strategies for preventing stress fractures and other injuries related to your sport. 

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is aptly named. A fracture means there’s a crack or break in a bone; in this case, it’s a small crack. You’ve placed too much force on the bone for too long, and it can’t take the pressure. 

Where do stress fractures normally occur?

Stress fractures normally occur in the lower leg, foot, and ankle. Think of all the force you apply to those parts of your body when you’re on your feet working, walking, running, dancing, or playing a sport. 

Many stress fractures develop in your tibia, the large bone in your lower leg; these are often running injuries. Your fibula, the smaller bone in your lower leg, can also sustain a stress fracture.

Your foot and ankle, as well as your shin, are prone to stress fractures. The bones running to your toes are called your metatarsals. Stress fractures are also common in the second and third metatarsals that run to your second and third toes. These are long, thin bones that receive the most pressure when you’re walking or running. 

You can also sustain a stress fracture in your heel, a small bone in your ankle joint called the talus, or a bone on the top of your foot called the navicular. 

Signs of a stress fracture

When your body sends you a signal that something is wrong, pay attention to it. Seeking early treatment prevents a minor or moderate injury from becoming a major problem that can take you out of the game for a season. Following are common signs of a stress fracture:

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, stop what you’re doing and rest the foot or leg. Use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Don’t continue playing your sport. 

If the pain doesn’t resolve in a day or two, call or book an appointment online with Delta Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. Early treatment can save you from a more severe break in the bone or a bone that moves out of alignment.

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