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Stress Fractures in Ankles and Feet: Not Just for Athletes

Stress fractures are common in recreational and competitive athletes alike. In fact, they account for up to 20 percent of athletic injuries. stress fracturesAbout 80 percent occur in the lower body.

Athletes are not the only ones who can experience this problem, though.

Stress fractures in the ankles and feet can affect anyone, regardless of age and fitness level. Osteoporosis, overuse, direct trauma, and nutrient deficiencies are all common causes.

Luckily, most factors that can lead to this kind of injury are under your control. Simple things, such as using proper exercise form and eating calcium-rich foods, may help prevent stress fractures and improve bone health.

But what exactly causes these injuries and what can you do about it? Let’s find out!

What Is a Stress Fracture?

A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone. This type of injury tends to occur in the bones of the leg, feet, and pelvis, which are more prone to wear-and-tear. In general, it involves the tibia and metatarsal bones.

As mentioned earlier, stress fractures in the ankles and feet are extremely common. These cause injury to the heel bone, navicular bone, heel bone, tibia, or the metatarsals. Treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms as well as on the affected area.

What Causes Stress Fractures in the Ankles?

These overuse injuries can have multiple causes. Sometimes, they result from repetitive stress. Other times, they occur because of poor exercise form, low calcium, and vitamin D levels, tendonitis, or improper footwear.

Jogging in ill-fitting shoes, for example, may lead to stress fractures in the ankles or feet. These injuries may also occur when you suddenly increase workout duration or intensity.

Other common causes and risk factors include:

  • Bone loss and osteoporosis
  • Tendonitis, bunions, flat feet, and other foot problems
  • Changes in running surface
  • Poor lifting form
  • Tight muscles
  • Resuming physical work too soon after a break
  • Overtraining

Women are more likely to experience this problem due to amenorrhea, eating disorders, and age-related bone loss, among other factors. It’s estimated that one-third of all women over 50 years old will suffer a fracture caused by weakened bones.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

In general, stress fractures cause mild pain that tends to worsen over time. You may also experience tenderness to touch and swelling in the affected area.

The pain may subside when you’re at rest and become worse during activity. If you ignore it, it may continue even after the activity is stopped. Some individuals report more severe pain at night.

When to Seek Medical Care

This type of injury occurs over several weeks or months. The sooner you do something about it, the higher your chances of recovery. Without proper treatment, stress fractures can become more severe and cause permanent damage to the bones.

If you constantly experience pain in the ankle or feet, seek medical care. This could be a sign of stress fractures, shin splints, strains, and other common injuries.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do at home to relieve pain and swelling. Cold compresses, adequate rest, compression garments, and NSAIDs may help. If your symptoms persist, reach out to a podiatrist or a foot and ankle specialist.

Take Care of Your Feet

Your feet and ankles have a complex bone structure that allows you to walk, run, jump, and exercise. These bones and joints, though, are prone to overuse and may suffer injuries.

Stress fractures in the ankles are not a medical emergency. However, they may lead to complications if left unaddressed. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late. If you live in Texas or nearby, contact us today to schedule an appointment and receive appropriate treatment.

The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about topics related to podiatry, feel free to contact Family Foot & Ankle Centers by clicking here or calling 972-597-4132 to reach our Waxahachie office, 903-872-9910 to reach our Corsicana office, or 972-875-3668 to reach our Ennis office.