The excitement of the Gate River Run is building here on the First Coast as the largest 15K race in the US will once again serve as the race where America’s top Olympic athletes will compete for $85,000 in prize money. Many athletes can experience foot pain when they do not properly train for races or when they compete in too many and the repetitiveness of running causes an “overuse injury”. The one overuse injury seen in many runners is the stress fracture.
Stress fractures are small, painful cracks in bones that are most commonly caused by forces that are repetitively applied to the bone overtime. It is very common for runners and track and field athletes to have stress fractures because they are running long distances every day and are therefore having these stresses occurring more at the bones in their feet. Stress fractures are also seen in people who start a new work out program and do too much too quickly. Another common reason in which stress fractures occur are because of osteoporotic bone, most commonly seen in the elderly and females. Osteoporosis is a weakening of the bone, therefore making bones more susceptible to breaking. Osteoporosis can be detected by a simple bone scan that can be done in the office.
At first, stress fractures may not be too bothersome, but they tend to get worse overtime. Some ways to tell that you have a stress fracture include: increase in pain and swelling with activity, decreased pain and swelling with decreased activity, pain in a specific area, and pain that gets worse overtime. After having a stress fracture for a long period of time, the pain may be chronic and/or get worse, so it is important to try and detect it early. Many times the later you catch it the more difficult it is to treat, as well as taking longer to heal. After a podiatric examination of the foot, the way to confirm that you have a stress fracture is to get an x-ray or MRI. The mainstay of treatment for stress fractures is by immobilizing the foot, which is most commonly done by having the patient wear a removable CAM boot in which most cases they are still able to walk.
Here at First Coast Foot Clinic we treat stress fractures on a daily basis. Whether you’re a runner, have started a new workout program, or just have foot pain in general, make an appointment today to make sure you do not have a stress fracture. Remember that they start out minimally painful, or sometimes even without symptoms so it is good to catch it early for the most effective treatment.