Stress fractures are small cracks in the bone as the result of repetitive trauma (stress) to a certain area. These cracks are sometimes very hard to see on X-ray and often mimic overuse soft tissue injuries or tendonitis. Stress fractures are often seen in active individuals or people who have recently ramped up their activity level. They are often found on weight-bearing bones of the feet, such as the metatarsal bones. More than 50% of stress fractures occur in the lower extremity.
Stress fractures usually do not go away without at least some period of immobilization. If pain to the forefoot, aggravated by activity does not improve with two weeks of rest, it is best to come to our office for a full examination and to take an X-ray.
Stress fractures are typically treated conservatively with rest, immobilization with a CAM walker, and ice. Patients often need to take a break from the activity that caused the stress fracture and allow 6-8 weeks for the bone to heal. Occasionally, if the fracture does not improve, a non-invasive bone stimulator may be ordered.