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Common Causes and Treatments of Foot Stress Fractures

Portrait of a fitness man with foot pain over gray background.jpeg

There are some misconceptions about what causes a foot stress fracture. Unlike other commonly damaged bones, a stress fracture in the foot generally does not occur from a single hard impact. They are more commonly suffered from repetitive use and excessive load bearing.


Bones are always rehabilitating themselves by flowing nutrients such as calcium to restrengthen after heavy use. Foot stress fractures occur when the small bones in the feet are overwhelmed. Excessive pounding occurs from things such as walking, running and hard landings. If you consider that everyday people take between 5,000 and 7,000 steps and the current trend is to top 10,000, foot stress fractures are likely to increase unless people take better care of their feet.

Do you suffer from a stress fracture?

Common Causes of Foot Stress Fractures

Athletes and military personnel suffer a high degree of fractures because of the overuse and heavy pounding on the lower extremities. Women are considered twice as likely as men to suffer a stress fracture in the foot due to osteoporosis. Age also plays a role due to mineral decreases resulting in lower bone density. The chances of incurring a foot stress fracture are also compounded by an array of other factors that include the following.

  • Weakened bone condition
  • Muscle fatigue or weakness
  • A person’s height and weight
  • Improper bone alignment
  • Improper foot and arch support
  • Hard training surfaces for athletes
  • Hard landings

Stress fractures can occur at any time, but appropriate foot care may help avoid unnecessary injuries.

How to Prevent Stress Fractures

The first preventive measure you can take is to maintain a well-rounded diet and sound bone health. Nutrition is key to natural healing. Reasonable exercise and stretching to encourage body flexibility are also important. Always wear footwear that provides proper support and don’t undertake excessive regimens that increase foot pounding, such as running on hard surfaces.

Stress Fracture Symptoms

Stress fractures in the foot are not full breaks. They are tiny cracks that usually run through the metatarsal, navicular and calcaneus (heel bone). Indicators often include pain, swelling, and difficulty bearing weight on the affected foot. Simple X-rays often prove ineffective in identifying the early stages. Left untreated, foot stress fractures can lead to more pronounced breaks.

Treatment Plans

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with a stress fracture in your foot, it’s important to contact a physician and have it examined as soon as possible. Continued use can result in more severe injury.  

In all likelihood, you will need to undergo X-ray and possibly more refined bone imaging. Once properly diagnosed, treatment plans may include:

  • Activity Modifications: Exercise routines may be changed to seated gym equipment and swimming to replace any walking or jogging cardio activity.
  • Footwear: Protective footwear by be required such as hard-soled soles to keep the foot stable in minor injuries. A brace may also be placed over the injured foot.
  • Casts: A foot stress fractures requires about 6 to 8 weeks to heal. Casts can provide more complete protection during the recovery process.
  • Surgery: Inserting support to help bones heal properly is a common procedure to ensure a full recovery.

The importance of good foot health cannot be understated. Nutrition, proper support and appropriate walking and jogging can help keep you vertical. If you are experiencing stress fracture in foot symptoms, seek medical treatment.