Earlier this week I awoke in the middle of the night with foot pain. I swung my feet out of bed to head for the bathroom and stood up. I immediately crumpled to the floor as pain shot through my left foot. Though I tried to be quiet my husband who has paramedic training awoke and sprang into action.
What is a stress fracture?
A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone and most stress fractures occur in the weight-bearing bones of the foot. Stress fractures of the foot are also called marcher’s foot, due to of the high incidence of occurrence in military recruits. Stress fractures are also common in ballet dancers, gymnasts, athletes, and others who spend a lot of time on their feet.
Predisposing factors are stress fractures in adjacent bones, neuropathic disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Insufficiency stress fractures result when the bone itself is weak due to conditions like osteoporosis reduce bone strength and density.
Stress fracture treatment
In cases of stress fracture like mine a removable plastic cast is better than a plaster cast, as it can be removed for physiotherapy treatment, which is aimed at preventing stiffness in the ankle joint. Mine is a blue boot and I’m now the owner of a collapsible cane. My physiotherapy won’t start for a couple of weeks.
It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks for a stress fracture to heal. Stress fractures in the fifth metatarsal bone (on the outer side of the foot) like mine take longer to heal. So I won’t be walking, hiking or dancing for a couple of months.
I’m keeping my foot elevated most of the time. The ice bath was effective to help with pain relief and reduce swelling, immediately following the stress fracture and I’m keeping that up. I’m using ice packs for 20 – 30 minutes every 2 – 3 hours help with the pain. But the pain is so intense that I have been taking Motrin so I can get some sleep.
My body has been telling me to take a break and now I have no choice — I’m broken. My to-do list has become my can’t do list. I am exhausted and easily irritated. But I did manage to get 3 draft posts underway and I do expect to publish one tomorrow, if all goes well.
Update: May 12, 2011 Re: X-ray results – 3 broken foot bones. Two breaks in the 5th metatarsal bone and one in each of the 4th and 3rd metatarsal bones. I’m now using Comfrey and Plantain poultices every day, usually twice daily and they do provide some relief. Thank goodness.