Stress Fractures Differ from Broken Bones
You didn’t hear a snap or a pop, and the pain in your foot really isn’t that bad and goes away when you rest. You might think everything is fine, but it is a good idea to have it checked out in our office. Fracturing your foot doesn’t always mean that a bone is completely broken. If the cracks in your bone are small and don’t go all the way through, they are referred to as stress fractures. Contrary to the noise you might hear when a bone breaks, these small breaks are silent and you may not even have symptoms at first. It is only when they grow and worsen that you may begin to feel pain. Their tiny size doesn’t mean that they are not serious, however. Dr. Howard Schaengold and the staff at The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic want to help you catch the problem in its early stages, so that you can be pain-free again.
How You Get a Stress Fracture
There are many causes of these small cracks, most of which involve putting increased strain on your feet and ankles. Maybe you usually run through the woods, and one day you decide to run on hard pavement. Or you might have a new pair of stiff shoes that don’t have as much cushioning as your last pair. Even increasing the length or intensity of your usual exercise routine can bring about extra stress on your extremities.
All of these situations can put more strain than usual on your muscles and ligaments, and they can become tired and not function properly. Instead of absorbing the pounding and strain, they transfer that abuse to the bone, which can then begin to crack. There are also medical conditions like osteoporosis that can weaken bones and make them more susceptible to breaking.
What Symptoms You May Feel
You may begin to feel a slight pain which gets worse when you exercise and then lessens when you rest. The pain may become more severe as days go by, and might be constant rather than coming and going with rest. The top of your foot or side of your ankle may swell slightly, or it may turn red or look bruised. When you touch it, the area may seem tender. It is important to call us when you notice these symptoms. We can determine if your activities put you at risk for stress fractures, examine your foot or ankle, and possibly order tests like X-rays or an MRI to see if the fracture is visible.
What You Can Do to Treat a Fracture
If you think you have this injury, it is important to do some immediate self-care. Stay off the foot or ankle and rest it. Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and pain, and elevate your feet. Most importantly, call Dr. Schaengold so that he can look at the injury and prescribe the right treatment. He may be able to provide you with special shoes or a cast that will allow some movement and still let the fracture mend. Some fractures are so severe that they will not heal without surgery. Once your foot is better, we can let you know when you may start to gradually return to your normal activities. It is important not to do too much too soon – that could be what started the trouble in the first place!
Living with pain in your feet or ankles is not normal and not necessary. Call The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic today at (425) 868-3338. We have helped patients in the Sammamish, Redmond, Bellevue, and Issaquah WA areas for over 20 years, and we are eager to care for your foot health. You can also request an appointment online.