Do You Have A Stress Fracture?

Do You Have A Stress Fracture?


We’ve been seeing a fair few stress fractures recently and have noticed patients are often surprised to hear that they’ve developed a fracture because of the gradual onset and progression of their symptoms.

This is because unlike regular fractures, that are usually related to an accident or trauma, stress fractures develop over time through repetitive stress to a bone and so present as small, hairline cracks in the affected bone. So what causes a stress fracture and how is it identified? Sole Motion Podiatry talks stress fractures!


So, what causes a stress fracture?

When high-impact forces (like from running and jumping) are repetitively put on a bone, tiny cracks may form. Over time and with added stress to the bone, these cracks can continue to grow and begin to cause painful symptoms. This is a stress fracture. Any activity or condition that results in pressure and heavy loads on a bone can lead to the development of a stress fracture. This includes:

  • High-impact physical activities such as running
  • Sudden increase in training intensity
  • Poor foot biomechanics or alignment issues
  • Unsupportive footwear
  • Increased weight
  • Malnutrition
  • Decreased bone density

Stress fractures can affect any bone and tend to be more common at the metatarsals (the long bones of the feet) and the tibia (shin bone).


What does a stress fracture feel like?

Because the damage from stress fractures build up over time, the pain can come on gradually without being linked to a certain incident or event. Symptoms over the fracture site can include:

  • Pain, ranging from mild to severe
  • Localised tenderness
  • Pain is exacerbated by weight bearing or physical activity
  • Pain settles with rest


What should you do if you have a stress fracture?

If you suspect that you have developed a stress fracture, you need to see your podiatrist immediately. There are numerous causes of pain and tenderness over a bone and stress fracture or not, it needs to be treated effectively so you can get the best outcomes and not make the injury any worse!

The first thing you can start doing at home is following the PRICE principles (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation) to help reduce your painful symptoms.

The goal of your treatment will then be to facilitate the healing and repair of the stress fracture and address the cause to reduce the risk of it happening again. To achieve this, we must find out the exact reason(s) that your stress fracture developed, and address each cause while allowing the bone to heal. This is why each patient’s management plan will vary to meet their needs and lifestyle, but generally may include:

    • Orthotics to address any biomechanical and alignment issues of the feet and legs that may be resulting in increased stress through specific bones
    • Footwear assessment to ensure the shoes are helping and not hindering recovery, and are not causing increased loading through certain bones
    • Activity modificationto avoid activities that will overload the same bone and cause more damage during recovery
    • Stretching tight muscles and joints and strengthening weakened muscles that may have contributed to the development of the stress fracture

    We also have a secret weapon that we use for bone healing – the THOR low-level laser treatment. We have great success using the cold laser to speed up recovery, and it has been clinically proven to accelerate healing in bone injuries and lead to a faster recovery for you.

    For more information or to book in with one of our expert Podiatrists, give our team a call on 1300-FX-FEET.

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