How to tell if you have a stress fracture
Here are some signs that may indicate you have a foot fracture.
You feel pain in the following situations:
- You put weight on your foot (the more you walk or run on a fractured foot, the more pain you will feel).
- You press on a bone in your foot.
- You jump and feel pain when you land, suggesting a possible stress fracture.
Swelling on top of the foot is also a sign of a stress fracture.
To determine with certainty whether you have a stress fracture of the foot, you should get an X-ray or a bone scan. For example, an X-ray may show an inflammatory reaction in the bone indicating a small fracture or even an outright fracture line. If the X-ray is normal, further tests to detect a small, hidden fracture can be done, such as a computed tomography (or CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a bone scan.
How to treat a stress fracture
How to prevent stress fractures
Stress fractures are aptly named, as they are linked to the fatigue of your muscles and tendons. When muscles and tendons are no longer able to do their job, the shocks from your steps are then absorbed by your bones.
This fatigue can occur in runners who train too hard. Bones are similar to muscles in that they need time to rest and repair themselves after training. Any increase in the duration, intensity or frequency of running should be done gradually to avoid such a bone injury.
There are also other factors responsible for stress fractures, such as ill-fitting shoes. Runners need to choose a shoe that is adapted to their needs and morphology. It should be neutral and the amount of cushioning required will depend on how and where you run. Finally, osteoporosis can promote stress fractures. Concerned individuals should consult their doctor.
Start off on the right foot
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- Ashley Mateo, “Quick Fixes for the 15 Most Common Running Injuries,” Runner’s World, April 27, 2021. https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a35994829/running-injuries/ (source consulted May 12, 2021)
- Jordan D. Metzl, “Everything You Need to Know If You Suspect a Stress Fracture in Your Foot,”* Runner’s World*, March 1, 2021. https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a19596239/stress-fracture-symptoms-treatment/ (source consulted May 12, 2021)
- Paul L. Liebert, “Stress Fractures of the Foot,”* Merck Manual*, February 2020 https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/home/injuries-and-poisoning/sports-injuries/stress-fractures-of-the-foot (source consulted May 12, 2021)