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Stress Fracture or Not? How to Tell

Runner holding ankle area in painRunners of all ages and skill levels agree that few things are more frustrating than forefoot pain. Forefoot pain makes it uncomfortable for you to strike the ground and push off again with the speed and power you need. Plenty of runners try to “push through” the pain and log their miles anyway, rather than sit on the sidelines, but if you have a metatarsal stress fracture, running through it isn’t helping you. In fact, you could be making things worse. So how do you tell when you have a stress fracture and not something else?

Stress fractures are thin cracks in bone tissue. Unlike other broken bones, stress fractures develop through overuse or excessive pressure. The shins and the metatarsals tend to be the most susceptible to them, particularly for runners. The problem is that continuing to run on a cracked metatarsal will make the damage worse over time. Enough repetitive pressure could break the bone clean through—and then you really will be forced to rest.

So catching a crack in your metatarsal is important. Unfortunately, because it’s an overuse problem, telling it apart from other types of forefoot and metatarsal pain can be challenging. Generally, though, you’ll feel the pain around a specific point. This could be close to the ball of your foot or more in the middle, near your arch. The injured area will be tender to the touch and probably swollen. The pain will increase as you run or walk, and decrease somewhat when you rest and put your foot up.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like these when you run or do normal, daily tasks, it’s time to get your forefoot checked. The true way to tell if you have a metatarsal stress fracture is through an evaluation and diagnosis. The sooner your injury is identified, the sooner you’ll be able to treat the problem and get back to running.

Stress fractures in the metatarsal bones are painful injuries that can not only ruin your run now, but take you off the trail for a while if they aren’t treated before they worsen. Never ignore foot pain when you’re running. Instead, let Absolute Foot Care Specialists help you take care of your feet so you can run pain free! Contact our Las Vegas offices today by calling (702) 839-2010 or by using our online forms to get more information or make an appointment.

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