Stress Fracture Feet

Stress Fracture Feet

Article by Shane Armfield

What is a Stress Fracture?

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone. They develop over some time and cause pain. The pain is quite distinctive, getting worse as you do more weight-bearing activities such as running or jumping. The foot is a common area for getting stress fractures, and several bones are at risk.

What Causes a Stress Fracture?

Stress fractures are caused by the repetitive application of force, often by overuse, repeatedly jumping up and down or running long distances.

Track and field athletes are particularly susceptible to stress fractures, but anyone can experience a stress fracture. If you have increased your weight-bearing exercise suddenly, you can be vulnerable to getting a stress fracture. It can be a debilitating problem that can stop you from doing any weight-bearing activity.

What is the Treatment for Stress Fractures Feet?

PHASE I – Pain Relief. Minimise Swelling & Injury Protection

Pain is the main reason that you seek treatment for a stress fracture. Analgesics may help. Ease your pain via ice therapy and techniques that de-load the inflamed structures. Anti-inflammatory medications may help.

Your physiotherapist will use an array of treatment tools to reduce your pain and inflammation. These include ice, electrotherapy, acupuncture, deloading taping techniques and soft tissue massage.

If the pain is terrible, your physiotherapist or doctor may advise you to use crutches or a walking boot.

PHASE II – Restoring Normal Weight Bearing

As your pain and inflammation settle, your physiotherapist will turn their attention to getting you back into exercise. This needs to be carefully managed as an uncontrolled increase in weight-bearing will exacerbate the stress fracture.

Treatment may include massage, muscle and joint stretches, taping, or the use of an orthotic. Your physiotherapist is an expert in the techniques that will work best for you.

PHASE III – Restore Normal Muscle Control & Strength

Your foot posture muscles are vital to correct the biomechanics that can lead to the increased stresses within your foot. Your physiotherapist will assess your foot posture muscles and prescribe the best exercises specific to your needs.

PhysioWorks has developed a “Foot Posture Correction Program” to help you regain your normal foot posture. Please ask your physio for their advice.

PHASE IV – Restoring Full Function

This stage of your rehabilitation is aimed at returning you to your desired activities. Everyone has different demands for their feet that will determine what specific treatment goals you need to achieve. For some, it is simply to walk around the block. Others may wish to run a marathon or return to a labour-intensive activity.

Your physiotherapist will tailor your rehabilitation to help you achieve your own functional goals.

PHASE V – Preventing a Recurrence

To prevent future stress fractures, your physiotherapist will talk to you about graded increases in exercise. You may also benefit from seeing our Dietitian advise you on good nutrition whilst training.

Your physiotherapist will guide you.