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Foot stress fracture: What are the common treatment options?

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A foot stress fracture can put a stop to athletic endeavors among athletes. The vital point in managing this injury is allowing the affected bone to rest and heal. The treatments might be non-surgical or surgical.

Determining the factors that contributed to the development of the foot stress fracture are essential for a successful treatment.

Initial care for a foot stress fracture

A stress fracture occurs if excessive strain is placed on the feet that is more than the bones can endure. This is often brought about by repetitive-impact sports such as basketball and running.

Once the injury occurs, the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is the initial treatment of choice.

  • Allow the affected foot to rest so that the body can heal the damage.
  • The application of an ice pack, wrapping the foot using an elastic bandage and elevating above the level of the heart minimizes the swelling and inflammation.

The doctor will require an X-ray, MRI or bone scan of the foot to check the size of the fracture so that suitable treatment can be started.

Foot stress fracture
The application of an ice pack, wrapping the foot using an elastic bandage and elevating above the level of the heart minimizes the swelling and inflammation.

Conventional treatment

It might be needed to briefly minimize the pressure on the foot by using crutches and a supportive shoe to allow the bone to heal.

Engaging in high-impact exercise too soon such as jumping and running must be avoided. Even though the bone is continuously repairing itself, it becomes stronger by bearing some weight. Once allowed by the doctor, the individual can gradually start with low-impact exercise such as swimming or biking and other form of weight-bearing activities.


Injuries to the bone typically start as mild stress such as bruising and later progress to a stress fracture due to repetitive impact. The scale and frequency of the impact can affect the size of the fracture which is why surgery might be required to stabilize the bone. Surgical intervention usually involves the placement of screws and plates to align the bone for proper healing.

The recovery and rehabilitation after surgery can take more than the 6-8 weeks span for the non-surgical measures.

Rehabilitation phase

Both the conventional and surgical treatment for a foot stress fracture often require a rehabilitation phase that involves stretching, strengthening and balance exercises along with correcting problematic actions.

Other vital factors to promote proper healing include the use of supportive, cushioned footwear along with proper nutrition with adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a foot stress fracture is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage broken bones including a foot stress fracture by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.

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