What can cause a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is a small break or crack in one of your bones. They are very common in the feet as they tend to be linked with overusing parts of your body. They are very much like a repetitive strain injury, like tennis elbow, the more repetitive use of your foot, the more likely you are to develop a stress fracture.

They are also linked to changing your activities. If for example, you go from running on a treadmill to jogging outdoors, that can sometimes be enough to cause a stress fracture. Although the activity is basically the same, the way you run may change slightly because of the change in environment. Stress fractures can also be caused by suddenly increasing your workout. This dramatic change in what you are doing to your body can cause stress fractures as well as other conditions.

The bones in the legs and feet are quite prone to stress fractures, this is because they are under quite a lot of strain all day. They carry our weight, have to endure us running, jogging and walking all while absorbing a lot of impact.

Where do stress fractures occur in the foot?

Stress fractures mainly occur in the second and third metatarsals of the foot. These are a lot thinner and longer than the first one and it is these characteristics that make them prone to stress fractures. Most of the time, a stress fracture will occur over time, after perhaps years of doing the same activities. The stresses that cause a stress fracture aren’t powerful enough to result in an acute fracture (the medical word for a broken bone) but they do form small cracks and breaks in the bone.

What are the symptoms of stress fractures in the foot?

Probably the most common symptom of a stress fracture in the foot is pain, they hurt quite considerably. This pain will get worse with any weight-bearing activities like walking, jogging or running. This pain is likely to subside after resting for a while but it might flare up during normal day to day activities.

There are also physical signs to look for on the foot as well. You may have a swelling on top of your foot, this will be tender to the touch and there might be a bit of bruising around the area of the stress fracture as well.

What to do if you have a stress fracture in your foot.

If you think that you have a stress fracture in your foot, going by the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your GP. If you ignore the symptoms above then gradually the pain is going to get worse and it could result in the bone breaking completely.

Until your appointment with your GP, you should use the Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation technique or RICE for short. Avoid doing any activity, even putting weight on your foot if you can (Rest), Apply cold packs or ice to your foot, 20 minutes at a time, a few times a day (Ice), wrap your foot in a bandage to help with swelling (Compression) and finally, rest with your foot higher than your heart (Elevation).

We hope this article has given you a better insight into the symptoms of a stress fracture in the foot.