Posts for tag: stress fractures
Exercise is great for you, and it comes in so many forms: biking, walking, swimming, running, weightlifting, etc. For many people who struggle with foot and leg pain, however, exercise can be a terrible trial. One of the most common overuse injuries from exercise is shin splints. This is often used as a catch-all term for lower leg pain, but shin splints specifically refer to the chronic damage done to muscles, tissue, and bone through the stress of overuse.
READ MORE: Foot Health for Marathoners
The medical term for shin splints is Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome. This happens when a muscle is pulled away from the bone, causing micro-tears in the muscle and surrounding tissue that present as generalized pain. Sometimes pain can occur on the outside of the shin bone, and this is called anterior shin splints. Medial pain will present on the inner side of the leg and is more common.
Repetitive motion injuries such as ligament sprains or stress fractures only occur to ligaments or bones. Shin splints cause damage to multiple parts of the leg, meaning it is imperative for us to avoid them and treat them if they do occur. Shin splints are most common in runners, dancers, and the military, but can present during any sport or heavy activity.
Specific conditions and activities that can contribute to shin splints include:
-Starting with too much exercise, too quickly
-Changing terrain or surface (such as switching from flat routes to hills)
-Always exercising on hard surfaces
-Not allowing for body recovery time between strenuous activities
-Exercising without proper stretching
-Worn out shoes
-Flat feet or high-arches
If you feel pain or tenderness, or see redness and swelling in your legs, use the RICE method. In case you forgot, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Stop all activity and do not resume until the pain has completely dissipated. Ice the front and sides of your shin while laying with your legs elevated above your heart. Compression socks can also help reduce swelling. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be taken in addition to RICE treatment.
READ MORE: What Does RICE Mean?
Once you have rested and the pain has subsided, it’s important to make sure shin splints don’t happen again. Change the intensity, frequency, or location of your workout to reduce strenuous surfaces or terrain. Have your running stride evaluated for potential imbalances and work to correct these. Replace your athletic shoes every 300-500 miles. If you have flat feet or high-arches, consider a support or orthotic to support important areas of the foot.
If you have shin splints that reoccur even after these changes, it’s time to see a podiatrist. Stress fractures and compartment syndrome can both be mistaken for shin splints. Your podiatrist will perform an examination and take x-rays to rule out other causes. Often, small changes to your workout or working in lower-impact activities can help reduce injury and pain. The doctors at the FAAWC are here to help. Make an appointment today and learn how you can exercise free from the pain of shin splints.
This month, we’ve talked about ligaments and we’ve talked about tendons. Now we need to talk about your bones. Your feet have over a quarter of the bones in your entire body (26 in each foot to be exact). We rely on our feet to get us through everyday life, but everyday life might be getting back at us with damage to our bones.
Bones are rigid, unlike tendons, muscles, and ligaments, which bend and stretch. If you break a toe from a sudden event, you usually know by the immediate pain and the amount of cursing that accompanies it. Not every broken toe comes from a sudden trauma though, and the signs of a slow stress fracture aren’t always as obvious as a sudden injury.
A stress fracture is brought on by repetitive motion. This could be from sports or just from everyday activities. Over time, hairline cracks in a small bone can turn to big cracks and eventually full breaks. The early warning signs of a fractured toe are subtle, but if you pay attention to your feet (like I always tell you to!), you should be able to recognize when your feet just don’t feel right. The first sign is pain. I say it time, and again, pain is not normal. Any sudden pain that occurs during a specific motion or activity is bad. Pain that gets worse during activities and then feels immediately better when you rest can be indicative of a stress fracture.
READ MORE: Don't Stress Over Stress Fractures
As the fracture deepens, the pain will get worse and stick around longer. It may now be accompanied by swelling, bruising, or tenderness. You may find it difficult to put on a shoe or even walk on the fracture. Seeing a podiatrist before you get to this point is important. Stress fractures are more likely to occur in people who train on hard surfaces (like concrete), repeat certain motions (like jumping and running), or wear improper shoes with little cushioning.
Even though treatment is generally straightforward, these injuries take a lot of time to heal. Your podiatrist may recommend a splint or boot to immobilize the joint and protect the toe. During this time, you may have to sit out of your favorite activities until the fracture heals. If you return to the same activity too soon, you’ll continue to damage to your bones, and more drastic treatment options may need to be taken. During your healing time, try activities like swimming or cycling which take pressure off the feet.
READ MORE: Avoid Athlete's Foot at the Pool
You can avoid stress fractures by taking proper precautions such as good shoes for activity, varied training surfaces, and paying attention to early warning signs. If you think you have a fractured toe, stop all activity, use the R.I.C.E. method for symptom treatment, and make an appointment with the FAAWC. Your toes will thank you.
Not everyone loves college football, but if you’re from Ohio, it’s a requirement to cheer our teams on and no team keeps us excited about football like the Ohio State Buckeyes. Only two short days from now (Saturday the 2nd) they will face off with Wisconsin in a battle for the Big 10 Championship title. Of course this means we want our players performing at their very best which starts with the health of their feet.
There are 26 bones in each of your feet. These are held together by 33 joints and over 100 ligaments, tendons, and muscles. That’s a grand total of 159+ things to worry about in the foot and ankle alone. Any one (or a number) of these things can be damaged by the repetitive motions found in football. Hundreds of punts each practice is a lot of impact on the same area of the foot. Running plays with long throws to wide receivers means a lot of running that day and a lot of heavy impact on the feet. Not to mention the direct impact a player’s feet could take from a cleat stomping down on it. All of these repetitive motions can lead to stress injuries. If treated properly and give rest, these injuries can heal, but if left untreated, they can lead to permanent disability.
Signs of a Repetitive Stress Injury
These injuries begin gradually with minor aches and pains during activity. This may lead to tingling, numbness, throbbing, tenderness, or weakness in the affected area during or after practice. If left untreated, the severity of the symptoms will increase and the pain will last for longer periods of time. This can cause a chronic condition and take you out of the game permanently.
Treatment for a Repetitive Stress Injury
The best treatment for these injuries is rest. Remove the action that is causing the stress and the injury can heal. If you catch this quickly enough, you may only have to rest for a day before you’re back to the playing field, but all too often, players push themselves through the pain and end up with extended recovery times of weeks or even months after ignoring the early warning signs of injury. The specific treatment you receive will depend on the diagnosis at the root of your injury. It could be a muscle, a tendon, a bone, your nerves, or any number of easily damaged spots. Regardless, pain means something is wrong and you need to be evaluated by your podiatrist. It doesn’t matter if you’re the quarterback of the Ohio State Buckeyes or just starting out on the local youth football team, your foot health is important to keep you in the game and pain and injury free.
The now super famous (and infamous) Pokémon Go app was released to the public on July 17th and it’s going to be a great thing for podiatrists…. though not really for their patients.
For those who don’t know, Pokémon Go is a free downloadable app for iPhone and android devices that brings hunting for Pokémon to the real world around you. Users are encouraged to go outside and walk their neighborhoods and cities to find Pokémon, pokestops (areas of interest around the city, usually pieces of art), and meet other Pokémon players. The theory behind this game is brilliant (and I must admit, the game itself is fun). Never before has a video game encouraged its users to be so active and social. However, with special incubators that hatch Pokémon eggs only after you walk certain distances (either 2km or 5km), millions of people who are used to a sedentary gaming lifestyle are suddenly getting up and walking around. And this means big changes for their feet.
We have talked in the past about protecting our feet while we exercise and slowly ramping up levels of activity, but let’s take another look at a few key things that may affect all you Pokémon Go players out there who are suddenly getting active:
- Stress fractures
This is a real concern for gamers who may not be used to heavy exercise or may underestimate the distances they are going and the impact on their feet. First of all, we need to make sure that everyone is wearing proper footwear for exercise, and no, that does not mean flip-flops. Increasing the daily impact on your feet through walking increases stress on our bones. As we discussed in March, a stress fracture is a small crack in a bone due to overuse or repetitive strain. This can easily happen to those walking long distances in bad shoes. The time it takes to lace up a pair of tennis shoes is about 30 seconds; the time it takes to recover from a stress fracture (and lose out on all that walking and Pokémon collection in the meantime) is several weeks to months depending on the severity. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the 30 seconds to tie my shoes.
- Fungal Infection
For those gamers who were intuitive enough to put on athletic shoes before venturing out, you have a different set of worries than our flip-flop users. You need to worry about foot cleanliness and fungal infections. Fungus likes to grow in warm, moist, and dark places, and all three of those conditions exist inside your shoes. In order to avoid lovely conditions such as athletes foot, I would recommend avoiding excess sweating inside your shoes (using a product like Bromi-lotion may help), changing your socks immediately after they get sweaty, and airing out or even disinfecting your shoes on a regular basis. Changing a key factor of your health, such as walking additional distances every day to catch Pokémon, can greatly impact your feet and their health. Be sure to wash your feet thoroughly and maintain appropriate cleanliness for your shoes. It may save a trip to the podiatrist.
Perhaps the biggest complaint so far concerning the Pokémon Go game is that it takes our eyes off of our environment and onto our phonescreen. This creates a whole new set of concerns when it comes to our feet. YouTube videos are popping up all over the place of Pokémon Go users falling down stairs and running into poles. While these can be funny to watch, those gamers may be doing serious damage to their feet. Every time our foot twists in the wrong way or our toes stub hard against something, we are risking major damage to our feet. If you are walking through the local park and only looking at your phone screen, you can easily step into a hole and twist your ankle or even break a bone. The app alerts you each time you start it up to remain aware of your surroundings, but reports have shown that gamers ignore these warnings and that is how they get into trouble with their feet.
Overall, I support the Pokémon Go app for the major shift it is causing in gaming culture, but I sure hope at least one gamer reads this article and thinks twice about their foot health before venturing out to catch their latest Pokémon. Only time will tell if gamers heed my warning.
Everyone gets stressed once in a while. To overcome stress we do things like relax in the bath, go out and exercise, or have a drink with friends, but some types of stress are harder to get over than that, particularly when it comes to stress fractures.
A stress fracture is exactly what it sounds like, a small crack in your bone due to overuse or repetitive strain on a single spot. When it comes to your feet, the people most at risk for stress fractures are athletes. Running, jumping, or kicking a ball around can all lead to recurring pressure on the feet and legs. Imagine hitting a rock lightly with a hammer. One or two hits may not do much, but over time you can make a pretty serious dent in that rock. That is the same scenario for a stress fracture.
Many of you athletes out there may be thinking, “but I’ve been doing (insert activity here) for a long time and never experienced a stress fracture.” That’s true, most athletes will never have a stress fracture, because there is usually enough rest between activities to allow any inflammation or pressure to subside. But you still want to be cautious and learn to spot the signs of a stress fracture.
The most common sign and symptom is pain. This pain usually appears during activity, subsides quickly with rest, but then reappears the next time you go back to that activity. Swelling on the top of the foot or outside of the ankle may also be present. The metatarsal bones (the long bones between your toes and your heel) are the usual victims of stress fractures since they feel the greatest impact when you push off the ground while walking or running. These areas may be tender to the touch or even show signs of bruising.
Keep a look out for signs and symptoms of a stress fracture if you have suddenly increased the frequency or intensity of your workouts or if you change environments (such as changing from running on a treadmill to running outside). If you do suspect that you have a stress fracture, stop all activity immediately and go see your podiatrist! Repeated strain on a fractured bone may result in an acute fracture or even a full break. If these things happen, you can expect your recovery time to double at the least.
Your doctor can diagnose a stress fracture with a simple in-office x-ray. Treatments include practicing the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to help with healing. Anti-inflammatory medication can help with swelling. Your doctor may also prescribe the use of crutches, special supportive shoes, modified activities (like biking or swimming), or apply a cast. With severe injuries, a surgical procedure may be necessary to secure the bones during healing. Whatever you do, do not resume physical activity until your doctor says it is ok. It may be hard to sit out of the game for a few weeks, but if re-injury or chronic fractures appear, you could end up being out for the whole season.
I’ve said it time and time again, but pain is NOT normal. If you experience pain with physical activity, call the FAAWC right away. Don’t stress out over stress fractures, we’ve got you covered and can recommend the right treatment to get you back on track in no time.