STRESS FRACTURES OF FOOT
These are small cracks in the surface of a bone that can result from stress and overuse. Stress fractures most commonly occur in the weight bearing bones such as the vertebrae, tibia, femur, pelvis, and the bones in the feet. If untreated, the cracks can develop into more serious fractures.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Stress fractures tend to occur on one side of the body and result from muscle weakness or imbalance, poor running technique, and/or uneven loading. The area around the fracture may be swollen and sore and feel hot to the touch. There will be localized tenderness over the site of the fracture. Walking on the affected leg may be very painful.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
Stop your training, follow the RICE procedure, and seek medical advice. An X-ray will be needed to confirm the diagnosis–sometimes the stress fracture does not show up immediately and an MRI scan may be needed. Rest and pain relief will be recommended, followed by a structured rehabilitation programme with a physical therapist. If a biomechanical abnormality is found to be a likely cause, you may be advised to wear orthotics in one or both shoes.
WHEN CAN I RETURN TO RUNNING?
You should be able to restart your training programme within six to eight weeks, depending on the injury site and likely cause of the fracture, but it can be up to three months. Start with gentle exercise, but stop if it causes pain. Resuming the activity that caused the fracture too soon can cause a more severe break, which will take longer to heal.