When you think about the stress that your toes, feet, and ankles go through on a daily basis, it really is surprising that the dozens of bones contained there do not break more often!
When most people picture broken bones, they envision dramatic breaks where bones are split in two and the person who experienced the break is rendered unable to move. With feet—for better or worse—many fractures are hairline fractures that, while painful, may not completely sideline someone from his daily activity.
Of course, when someone continues walking around or exercising with a hairline fracture, he only worsens the damage that is already done. Continuing to use a foot or toe that has a hairline fracture can eventually lead to an acute fracture or permanent complications such as arthritis.
What Is a Stress Fracture, and What Should I Do About It?
Stress fractures, or hairline fractures, begin as a small crack in a bone. The crack may be barely noticeable at first. A common overuse injury, these fractures occur when the muscles around a bone become fatigued, passing the stress of impact to the nearby bone. Stress fractures frequently occur when people increase their activity or exercise regimen too quickly, or already suffer from weakened bones. Another common cause is when runners suddenly switch from treadmills and soft indoor tracks to hard road surfaces.
If you have a stress fracture, you may notice tenderness or swelling in a specific area that may become more painful as time wears on. Symptoms may increase as workouts continue, until the pain becomes much worse.
When stress fractures are caught early enough, treatment is very straightforward. Rest is key: allowing the bone and muscles around it to rest without bearing weight is critical. Ice can help reduce inflammation as well. Extra protection such as a boot or even the use of crutches can help reduce stress on the afflicted foot.
Acute Fractures: Serious Cracks Resulting From Trauma
Unlike stress fractures, acute (or traumatic) fractures occur from a specific trauma, such as a single hard hit or twist. Most people know as soon as this type of fracture occurs, or learn soon after as pain is consistent at the site of the trauma and is often accompanied by bruising, swelling, or numbness.
These fractures often need more aggressive treatment in addition to the standard rest and icing, including strategic splinting, immobilization, or realignment of the fracture. For fractures that are severely displaced or complex fractures, the fracture may need a screw or pin.
Come See Us At Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic Today For Your Fracture
When fractures go untreated or improperly treated, there are many complications that can develop, including arthritis and deformities that cause pain for a lifetime. By seeking the help of a podiatrist, you can ensure that your foot gets the attention, treatment, and therapy needed for you to get back on your feet for good.
If you have suffered from a fracture or believe that you may have a stress fracture, come see Dr. Silvester at the Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic today! Schedule an appointment using our online scheduling tool, or call us at 830-569-3338 or 855-972-9512.