Signs Of A Metatarsal Stress Fracture And What A Foot Doctor Can Do

People often think of broken bones as being a traumatic, acute injury. Most broken bones are. However, you can also develop stress fractures, which are breaks in a bone that result from a high level of stress and contusion over time. One area in which stress fractures can occur is in the metatarsal bones, which are the bones that form the top of your foot. Here are some tips for identifying whether you have a metatarsal stress fracture, along with a look at how a foot doctor will typically treat a stress fracture.

Signs of a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

The core symptom of a metatarsal stress fracture is pain along the top of your foot. Of course, there are a number of conditions that can cause pain in this location, including bruising, tendonitis, and ligament tears. So, you don't want to assume your pain is caused by a stress fracture without first doing a little more assessment. 

How did the pain come on? Stress fracture pain often starts off dull, as at this early stage, you have inflammation and irritation of the bone and surrounding tissues. Then, the pain will suddenly worsen and become centered around a specific area. This is when the break actually occurs. It is usually during a workout or period of heavy activity.

The pain of a stress fracture is also very concentrated. One specific area will hurt worse than the surrounding area, especially when you press on it.

How Stress Fractures Are Treated

Your foot doctor will likely treat a stress fracture by having you wear a walking boot or soft cast and stay off the foot as much as possible for a couple of months. They may also prescribe NSAID pain relievers to keep you comfortable and to keep inflammation down.

Longer-term, your foot doctor should work with you to determine what caused the stress fracture and then make changes to ensure you don't get another one. This may include recommending orthotics for your shoes or advising you to switch to different shoes. Your foot doctor may also give you exercises to do to strengthen the muscles in your feet. Stronger muscles translate to a lower risk of fractures.

Metatarsal stress fractures are not uncommon in runners, jumpers, basketball players, and others who do high-impact exercises. If you think you have one, don't hesitate to see a foot doctor. There is a lot they can do to help you heal.