Stress fractures are microscopic ‘hairline’ fractures that occur within weightbearing bones of the legs and feet.
Bones are constantly attempting to remodel and repair themselves, especially during sport where extraordinary stresses are applied to bones. Over time, if enough stress is placed on the bone that it exhausts the capacity of the bone to remodel, a weakened site (a stress fracture) on the bone may appear.
Common sites of stress fractures within the foot include:
* 3rd Metatarsal
* 5th Metatarsal
Stress fractures do not appear suddenly. They occur from repetitive microtrauma, which is not sufficient to cause a sudden break, but when added together over a period of time, overwhelm the osteoblasts that remodel the bone leading to a minor crack. The stage before a stress fracture is known as a stress reaction and it is during this stage that symptoms can first appear.
Symptoms of a stress reaction include pain on weightbearing through the bone, pain on palpation in a small section of bone, a deep dull ache that can be throbbing during periods of rest (especially whilst sleeping), an inability to weightbare properly though your foot and a pain that increases as you continue activity.
Management of a stress fracture can include significant periods of non-weightbearing and altered training programs, so it is imperative to have proper diagnosis and management implemented as soon as you notice any symptoms associated with a stress reaction or stress fracture.
As there are many causes of a stress fracture forming, it is important to have a thorough examination to establish what structure is responsible for the pain, what has caused it to occur and the best way to manage it. Our Podiatrists are able to correctly assess, diagnose and manage your forefoot pain effectively. Imaging modalities such as a CT Scan, Bone Scan or MRI may need to be arranged to correctly diagnose a stress fracture.