Intense Activity can Result in Unexpected Stress

Intense Activity can Result in Unexpected Stress

Research shows that approximately five percent of military recruits incur stress fractures (also known as march fractures) in the lower legs or feet during intense physical training. But this condition is not limited to military trainees; individuals who take part in intense physical training or those who suddenly increase their physical activity are prone to stress fractures, especially in the ends of the long second and third metatarsal bones toward the front of the foot.

Stress fractures, although common, are sometimes difficult to detect on x-rays. These tiny breaks in the bone can be quite painful and swelling may occur in the front of the foot between the biggest and smallest toes, but bruising may not show. The onset of the pain is usually gradual with no obvious single injury. Stress fractures are generally associated with new or increased amounts of exercise because this is when the muscles are not fully conditioned to support the activity. When the muscles tire, an increased amount of pressure is exerted directly on the bones, leading to a fracture.

Stress fractures are more common in women and are frequently associated with activities that include intense running or jumping. Other factors that may contribute include sudden weight loss, osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency, smoking and consumption of more than 10 units of alcohol each week.

Treatment with anti-inflammatory medication, rest, ice, compression and elevation of the foot is the first line of approach. However, because of the complex nature of this condition, a visit to a specialist like Toronto-based podiatrist, Sheldon H. Nadal, D.P.M., is highly recommended. He can provide an accurate diagnosis and can provide advanced treatments like laser pain therapy or extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) to speed up the healing process. Therapeutic laser treatment reduces pain and inflammation through a combination of super pulsed laser with a radial wave, pressure wave or radial shock wave.  ESWT uses direct and indirect shock waves to reduce pain and promote healing of soft tissues.

Surgical intervention is rare but a period of immobilisation and gradual rehabilitation is likely because reoccurrence rates are high if the condition is not properly managed.