Stress fractures are overuse injuries and results from fatigue of surrounding muscles. The fatigued muscles are unable to absorb shock and forces and this load is then transferred to the bone leading to failure within the bone, and a tiny crack or fracture.
95% of all stress fractures in athletes occur in the lower legs and feet. In the foot, the most common sites are the metatarsals (especially 2nd and 3rd); whilst in the lower leg it is in the lower third of the tibia.
Stress fracture symptoms are usually gradual in onset and progress to more focal localised pain with the onset of swelling. Pain is usually most severe during weightbearing and exercise but may also be present at rest.
Stress fractures are caused by overload and overuse, so sports that involve repetitive stresses like running and jumping are often more prone. Factors that can cause stress fractures include, increased training load, hard surfaces, poor foot or lower leg mechanics, poor footwear and diet deficiencies.
Our Melbourne sports podiatrists can help diagnose and treat all stress affecting the foot and lower leg. Treatment options at our Melbourne podiatry clinic include immobilisation in CAM walker or moon boots. We have both short and long CAM walkers depending on the fracture and these can be hired or purchased from our Melbourne clinic following consultation with a podiatrist. We can also prescribe orthotics to help treat and prevent stress fractures. Orthotics with specific padding can often safely offload and stabilise forefoot fractures to allow healing without the need for CAM walkers and crutches. Following healing our sports podiatrists can also help you with rehabilitation and exercises to help get you back on your feet and prevent future stress fractures.