There it is. Right in the middle of your 10k. The pain. The terrible pain that all runners, soccer and basketball players know as a stress fracture. But, actually, no one is immune. Running or walking or jumping continually, over time, puts the weight-bearing bones of your foot and lower leg at risk for very tiny cracks or micro-fractures.
Stress fractures happen when people change-up or add to their physical activity routine, such as increasing the intensity of their workouts, trying a new exercise, or changing the workout surface. And, if osteoporosis has weakened the bones, simple, everyday activities may result in a stress fracture.
Resting and refraining from high impact physical activity for an adequate period of time is key to recovering from a stress fracture of the foot or ankle. Returning too quickly may delay the healing process and may also increase the risk for a more serious fracture – which, of course, will take far longer to recover from.
The most common symptom of a stress fracture in the foot or ankle is pain, which usually develops gradually and worsens during weight-bearing activity. Other symptoms may include:
- Pain that diminishes during rest
- Pain that occurs and intensifies during normal, daily activities
- Swelling on the top of the foot or on the outside of the ankle
- Tenderness to touch at the site of the fracture
- Possible bruising
Call us immediately if you think that you have a stress fracture in your foot or ankle. In the meantime, follow the RICE protocol:
- Rest – Avoid activities that put weight on your foot. If you have to bear weight, make sure you wear a supportive shoe.
- Ice – Apply ice immediately after the injury to keep the swelling down. Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply ice directly on your skin.
- Compression – To prevent additional swelling, lightly wrap the area in a soft bandage.
- Elevation – As often as possible, rest with your foot positioned higher than your heart.
In addition, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling.
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