Stress fractures are tiny, hairline breaks that can occur in the bones of the foot. Also known as a fatigue or march fracture, stress fractures occur with no history of trauma and no audible crack or snap heard. Pain is usually sensed deep within the skin with pressure on the bone and usually sharply with the onset of activity. They can be caused by overtraining or overuse, improper training habits or surfaces, improper shoes, flatfoot or other foot deformities, and even osteoporosis. These tiny breaks in the bones of the feet can lead to a complete break if left untreated.
Pain, swelling, redness, and possibly bruising can be signs of a stress fracture. The fracture can occur almost anywhere in the foot. Stress fractures can often be overlooked because x-rays may be negative until the minute crack has condensed within the bone. Therefore it is important to have an examination by a knowledgeable podiatric physician who is able to recognize the possibility of a stress fracture as the source of the injury. Treatment may include rest and possible immobilization of the foot. In some cases, surgery may be required to stabilize the stress fracture or to repair a stress fracture that has progressed to a fracture.
Stress fractures should not be ignored, because they will come back unless properly treated. Symptoms of stress fractures include:
Pain with or after normal activity
Pain that goes away when resting and then returns when standing or during activity
"Pinpoint pain" (pain at the site of the fracture) when touched