Hairline fractures, also known as stress fractures, are quite common in the feet and ankles of athletes and people who engage in repetitive movements or spend a lot of time standing.
Stress fractures can be difficult to identify, and doctors usually confirm the diagnosis with imaging scans such as an X-ray or MRI. However, they do come with a few symptoms that should prompt a trip to the doctor’s office.
Our experts at Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle Center treat ankle stress fractures regularly. Here, they share some of the most common signs of ankle stress fractures.
1. Severe pain during physical activities
When a bone develops tiny cracks, you may feel only mild pain. However, you notice the pain increases in intensity when you walk, run, or jump. If you engage in athletic activities regularly, you may notice an inability to maintain your usual performance level.
2. Pain that gets better with rest
Because overuse causes stress fractures, the pain from a stress fracture may initially alleviate during rest. However, if you leave a stress fracture in your ankle untreated, you eventually feel pain at all times when bearing weight on your foot, even when you’re not engaging in athletic activities.
3. Tenderness and inflammation
Do you have certain spots on your ankle that feel tender and inflamed? It’s likely that these spots indicate the location of the stress fractures. Inflammation is one of the primary defenses of the immune system against trauma and disease-causing organisms. It almost always signals that there’s an unhealed injury or infection.
Swelling is a symptom of a stress fracture, and the area may be tender to the touch.
When there’s a blow to your body, blood vessels often break and cause bruises on the surface of the skin. Sometimes bruises occur when injuries affect blood vessels deeper in the body, such as with a stress fracture.
Diagnosing your ankle stress fracture
If you’re experiencing symptoms in your ankle, don’t wait for the pain to become severe. You can get a proper diagnosis and treatment by seeing a doctor, and it’s best to treat a fracture early rather than risk more damage to the bone.
At Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle Center, our team examines your ankle, asks you about your exercise routine and typical physical activity, and reviews your medical history to rule out other risk factors for developing stress injuries. Next, we use imaging techniques such as X-rays to take a closer look at the bones in your ankle.
If our experts determine that a stress fracture is causing your symptoms, they encourage rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE) and may recommend anti-inflammatory medication, special footwear, or a cast to keep your ankle in the right position while it heals.
Call or make an appointment online today to get a proper diagnosis and excellent care for all of your foot and ankle needs.