How to tell if you have a stress fracture in your foot

If you have a stress fracture in your foot, it can be the result of overuse. Symptoms, causes and risks are ways to tell if you have a stress fracture in your foot. The most common areas for a stress fracture are the second and third metatarsals in the foot, according to American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Other common sites are the heel of your foot and at the top of your midfoot.

Know the symptoms. If you have a stress fracture in your foot, you will experience pain that can develop slowly and increase with weight-bearing activity such as standing. The pain in your foot, however, will decrease when you're at rest. You may have to hobble or limp because of an inability to walk normally on your affected foot. In addition, you can feel pain that may become severe during any of your daily, normal activities. You may feel numbness in your foot or toes with a stress fracture in your foot.

At the site of your foot fracture, you will see a difference. For instance, you may see inflammation on the top of your foot or side of your ankle. When you touch the site of your fracture you will feel tenderness. Also, you may see a visible deformity, like a lump, over the fracture site. You will notice possible swelling where the fracture has occurred. In addition to those symptoms, your will have decreased range of notice. For example, you will have trouble moving your foot up, down or from side-to-side.

Understand the cause of a stress fracture. In addition to your symptoms, a stress fracture in your foot can be caused by different problems. In fact, simply trying to do too much too soon can cause a stress fracture in your foot---for instance, when you increase how often you exercise, your intensity or how long you exercise. You are also at risk for a stress fracture in your foot if you have just started an exercise program and try to work out too hard or too fast. These factors, in conjunction with fatigued muscles, can cause pressure to shift from tired muscles to the bones in your foot and cause a fracture.

Know the risk factors. Participation in physical activities is not the only reason why stress fractures can occur in your foot. Bone insufficiency, or weak bones, can also put you at risk for a stress fracture. For example, osteoporosis, a medical condition in which bone density and strength are diminished, can increase your chance of a stress fracture in your foot. Other factors include decreased muscle mass or advanced age. If you are a female athlete with absent or irregular menstrual periods, you are also at risk for a stress fracture, according to AAOS.

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