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Chronic Foot Pain: Could It Be a Stress Fracture?

While stress fractures may seem inconsequential compared to more dramatic injuries, they can lead to significant discomfort and long-term complications if not properly diagnosed and treated.

Orthopedic specialist Dr. Sumit Dewanjee and our team at FXRX in Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona, offer expert care for various orthopedic conditions, including stress fractures.

Read more from our FXRX team regarding stress fractures, how they differ from other injuries, and the treatments that help.

Understanding stress fractures

A stress fracture is a tiny crack in a bone, usually the result of repetitive force or overuse rather than a single traumatic event.

These fractures commonly occur in weight-bearing bones like those in the feet and ankles, particularly in athletes or individuals who engage in high-impact activities. The repetitive stress placed on the bones can overwhelm the bone’s natural ability to rebuild (remodeling), leading to these small cracks.

Stress fractures can occur anywhere in the foot or ankle but are most common in the:

While overuse is a common cause of stress fractures in runners and other athletes, individuals with decreased bone density (osteoporosis) are vulnerable even with everyday activities.

Signs and symptoms of a stress fracture

Identifying a stress fracture can be tricky because the symptoms often resemble those of other foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis or tendinitis.

But there are some key indicators to watch for:

Depending on your symptoms and initial evaluation results, Dr. Dewanjee may request X-rays or other imaging tests to confirm a stress fracture.

Treatment and recovery

If diagnosed early, stress fractures typically heal well, within 6-8 weeks, with conservative treatments. These may include:

Once the fracture has healed, you gradually reintroduce activities under Dr. Dewanjee’s supervision.

If these conservative measures fail, and depending on where the stress fracture occurs, Dr. Dewanjee may recommend surgery to aid healing.

Preventing stress fractures

You can reduce your risk of a foot or ankle stress fracture by wearing supportive shoes appropriate for your activity. They absorb shock and reduce strain on your feet. Further, it’s important to gradually increase exercise intensity and duration so your body has time to adjust.

Our FXRX team recommends incorporating low-impact exercises into your routine to prevent overuse injuries. A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D also benefits bone health.

Listen to your body and promptly address discomfort and other symptoms to prevent minor issues from escalating into more severe injuries.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Dewanjee at FXRX today by calling the office or requesting an appointment online.

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