Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle

A stress fracture can occur in the ankle or foot, as well as a multitude of other places. Usually caused from overuse, the injury causes a small crack in the bone that generates from significant amount of stress over time to the area.

Many patients report an increase in activities, such as exercise, which brought on the symptoms associated with a stress fracture. These activities can be as mild as walking or as intense as running or lifting weights.

Excess stress can be put on the region, such as the foot or ankle, which results in a crack in the bone. The foot and ankle are among the most common places on the body for these fractures to show up.

Stress Fracture Causes

While the most often seen causes of these fractures to the ankle and foot are from an increase in physical activity, other causes are prominent. These causes may include osteoporosis, which is a condition that causes weak bones through decalcification. A person with osteoporosis may become highly susceptible to breaking a bone even with a small amount of activity.

Athletes who perform high impact sports and repetitive movements may also be afflicted with a stress fracture because of the continued stress over time of the body part.

Long distance runners, basketball players, gymnasts and soccer players are among the most common athletes who develop these fractures in their feet or ankles.

How to Determine if You Have a Stress Fracture?

Pain is the most common symptom seen. If you have recently increased your activities and as a result are experiencing pain in your ankle or foot, you may have developed a stress fracture. The pain typically worsens as activity is initiated but may feel better with rest.

Isolated pain may also occur in the specific area of the fracture. You may notice that if you push on the affected area that significant pain occurs.

It is important to immediately stop the activities that are causing pain. If the symptoms carry on for several days, even after rest, it is important to see your podiatrist for a thorough examination and diagnosis.

An x-ray will reveal the fracture most of the time. In some cases an MRI or bone scan may be ordered to provide further insight into the fracture and the depth of the issue. Often an MRI will reveal more detail than an x-ray; however, x-rays are a great way to provide an initial diagnosis. At times the x-ray is negative and the fracture is only seen on the MRI.

Treatment is typically nonoperative, and may involve a brace, rest, ice, or a bone growth stimulator for healing of the fracture.