Let’s Talk About Stress . . . Fractures | Jamelah Lemon, DPM


The temperatures are dropping as we enter into the cooler seasons of fall and winter which usually means we put away our sandals and bring out our boots. In the cooler months, some hospitals report up a 500% increase in ER visits usually due to slips and falls. Stress fractures, a hairline crack in the bone of the foot, are one of the more common winter-related injuries that make walking very painful. If left untreated that fracture could develop into a complete break in the bone.

Stress fractures can be misleading to some because there is the misconception that they only occur from a slip, trip or fall but that is a myth. Athletes can get stress fractures from continuous weight bearing activities such as running, gymnastics and other sports. Others can develop stress fractures from simply standing on a hard floor too long. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, stress fractures can occur in a wide variety of seemingly minor circumstances like standing or walking for long periods of time. Some runners believethat since they can still walk on their foot there is no need to rest or reduce their activity level. “It can’t be broken, I can walk on it!” If someone continues to run or walk on it untreated; it could make the condition worse and the recovery prolonged.

It is important to recognize the signs of a stress fracture especially after a fall or stressful activity. Pain, swelling, redness and possibly bruising over the area can all be signs of a stress fracture. The symptoms usually improve with rest but come back once activity is resumed. If the pain continues after rest you want to follow the RICE protocol – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

If the pain and swelling last longer than a few days a visit to a podiatrist for an x-ray is needed. Treatment may include crutches, a surgical shoe or a cast or boot to immobilize the fracture. In some cases, surgery may be necessary if the stress fracture has progressed into a full fracture. Treatment can take 4 to 6 weeks IF you catch the problem early. Stress fractures can recur in some people especially in those who have fragile, soft bones. They can also occur in people with a certain foot type such as those with flat feet, high arched feet or long bones in their foot.

No matter if it is the first or third time you have a stress fracture, proper and early treatment is recommended, which includes allowing your foot to rest. If you suspect you may have a stress fracture please contact the team at Physicians Footcare so we can help you take the first step toward getting back to what you love to do.


Written by:

Jamelah Lemon, DPM

Physicians Footcare