The most common symptom of a stress fracture is pain during activity. The pain usually begins at the same spot and stops when activity is ceased. Other indicators include swelling on the top of the foot or on the outside of the ankle, tenderness to touch and bruising.
Who is at risk?
As the name suggests march or stress fractures can be caused by sudden increases in physical activity such as running, jogging or even walking. Often patients who start a new workout program or begin training for events such as marathons or distance running are at risk of developing stress fractures.
Footwear that is flimsy or worn out, or an underlying biomechanical condition such as hypermobility or a tendonitis can reduce your foots ability to absorb the repetitive forces as your foot strikes the ground, consequently causing stress fractures.
A stress fracture will be very painfully and will be worse when weight-bearing such as when standing. Often acute stress fractures can be swollen and bruised.
Patients which bone insufficiency conditions such as Osteoporosis, patients who are undertaking extreme diets or have Vitamin D insufficiency are at a greater risk of stress fractures as the bone density is often reduced.
Women suffering from the Female Athlete Triad are particularly susceptible and should take care to see a podiatrist should there be any discomfort as their bodies are more susceptible to these injuries.
How is a stress fracture diagnosed?
A thorough medical history helps your clinician see if any lifestyle choices, previous medical conditions, or other relevant data may pose certain risk factors. This is followed by a physical examination where the podiatrist will locate the area of pain and assess for damaged structures.
Once a specific area has been pinpointed, diagnostic ultra-sound imaging may be used to assess the internal structures of your body for any damage and swelling around the bone that is commonly associated with a suspected stress fracture. In some cases, your podiatrist may request for X-ray investigation to provide detailed images of the bone and check for any bone callus or breaks in the cortex of the bone as this may also be suggestive of stress fracture.