Common Causes and Treatments of Stress Fractures

Spring has finally arrived here in NYC.  I’m happy to report that I have run a half marathon this week, and my quads are recovering nicely, thank you.  I’m also happy to report that I treated the first stress fracture of the season in my NYC podiatry office today.  What is that you ask?  Read on, dear blog fan.

A stress fracture is a breakdown of normal bone, usually due to an abnormal amount of pressure.  This pressure may come in the form of an increase in walking, weight, different shoes, or a particularly grueling exercise regimen, such as the Long Island half marathon.  This is most commonly seen in the metatarsal bones, which are the long bones of the foot.  Initially, X-rays may not demonstrate a fracture because there is not enough activity within the fracture site to be visible on X-ray.  As the body begins to heal the fracture, the bone that forms around the fracture site is apparent on X-ray, a process that typically takes about 2 weeks.  Since MRI visualizes all soft tissue and bone in fine detail, the swelling within the bone can be observed in the early stages of a stress fracture, long before becoming apparent on X-ray.  Typically patients present with gradually worsening swelling and pain around the area of the fracture.  Through the miracle of modern X-ray technology, the healing fracture can then be seen, and another happy patient walks out the doors of my NYC podiatry office on the road to healing.

And what is the path through those doors?  Typically, it is in a fracture boot, also called a CAM walker and affectionately known as a Frankenstein or ski boot, which is worn for 3-6 weeks while the fracture heals.  If the fracture is stable and healing, some patients are able to walk in a comfortable shoe, such as a sneaker, while the fracture heals.  And my apologies in advance to my NYC runners, you can’t run on a stress fracture.   The break needs to heal, and that requires a short term investment in healing.

So if you’ve been running like a crazy person and your foot is swollen and painful, don’t be like Forrest Gump.  Stop into my NYC podiatry office to make sure there are no fractures or other injuries.  You just never know what you’re gonna get.

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson

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