General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like? Rss Feed  
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2012-11-05 12:59 AM

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Subject: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?

So I know describing pain is difficult, and I know none of us are doctors. With that said, I've been trying to figure out what is up with my foot.

I ran my first marathon on Oct 21. The run was in Vibrams which has been the only shoe I have run in for as long as I have run (2 years). Admittedly I could have probably used one more long run as my longest run before the marathon was only 17 when I was hoping to get up to 18 beforehand. Other than that I felt well prepped for my first marathon. 

Since then marathon I have kept my mileage down with only 5 real runs since then (2.5-4 miles) with 1 mile runs and trainer rides on the other days. I expected to hurt after the marathon, and I did but there was nothing that I was immediately alarmed about other than some pretty decent swelling in my right ankle/foot for a day or two after. I wasn't super concerned because my other ankle was also swollen just not as much. Since then, the foot pain that popped up after the marathon has not really gone away. 

The pain: It's very localized on the bottom outside area of my right foot, behind the ball area but in front of the heel area. It gets better with icing and worse with running anything over 3 miles. No pain if I push on the "knuckles" of the metatarsals on top of my foot. Whenever the pain is acting up, the area is sensitive to pressure. The best way I can describe the pain is that it feels like a lot of tension. It feels like there is something in my foot that has been cranked too tight in that one area. 

Only thing that I have come up with is stress fracture, but I've never had one before so I have no clue what they feel like. Any thoughts?



2012-11-05 1:00 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?
Can you hop on that foot?
2012-11-05 1:23 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?
Just hopped on the foot with no pain, but I have been icing it most of the night so right now it's in a happy mode. 
2012-11-05 2:52 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?

Hi,

A stress fracture is not a fracture with the bone broken in two, but rather as I understand it, a lot of microfractures within the bone reducing the strength. This also means that you can have stress fractures of different grade, I don't know how/when it is actually diagnosed as a stress fracture.

I was told that initially you can't see this on a normal x-ray, but when the body responds swelling around the injured bone can be seen on the x-ray. Also, on x-ray healthy bones show as white border and gray center, but (in my case) the injured bone showed as all gray. And instead of normal concave on both sides it had a bulge near the injured zone.

I didn't feel the injury build up, or at least I couldn't tell. But when it hit, I could barely walk on the foot back home. That day it was constant pain with spikes when putting weight on the foot.

Later the pain I felt was spikes of pain every time I landed on the foot, but standing did not cause pain, nor did walking (heel strike). Weeks after injury, short very runs did not cause pain, I had to run about 1km before I could feel pain.

I could push on the bone and it would hurt but not as much as when running, it's difficult to find the weak point to push to cause pain as there is no clear fracture point. Ice would reduce swelling and pain.

If you can jump and run short distances it may just be in an initial stage and giving it rest it will recover fast(er). You may not feel pain on short runs because the entire foot works to absorb impact, but as your muscles get tired the impact is absorbed by the bones, and that's what causes the injury. 

If you are concerned, see a doctor. Give your foot rest, then start running in normal trainers or at least running flats, leave your Vibrams at home for a while.

BR

2012-11-05 6:06 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?

I had a calcaneal stress fracture back in the summer.  I actually had a lot of burning in the heel area and felt stinging (like bee stings) near my toes.  And my ankle hurt.  I had no swelling in the foot at all.  It hurt to walk on it.  It even hurt to pedal on the trainer.  When the doc cupped my heel and squeezed that was really bad.  In fact the stress fracture did not show up on the xray, but the physical exam was used as a diagnosis.  I wore a boot for 4 weeks and after 4 weeks started PT.  Couldn't ride until 4 weeks had passed, and I couldn't start walk/run till 8 weeks had passed.  Actually started walking at 8 weeks and started adding in jogs after 12 weeks.

jami   

2012-11-05 8:14 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?

When I thought I had a stress fracture, I asked the P.A. at my doctor's office. With the small likelihood it would show on an xray, he administered what he called the field test he learned in the Army. Turns out this is a common method among runners, and cheap. Ring a tuning fork, then touch the vibrating tip to your foot. If you have a stress fracture, the vibration through your foot will be very painful. You'll know.

I believe a C in the 128 frequency is the best one. There are many articles on this, just google it. Ebay has many sellers offering the tools. I tried to get the right one at a local music shop, it was the only frequency they were sold out of. 



2012-11-05 9:50 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?

csikes - 2012-11-05 1:23 AM Just hopped on the foot with no pain, but I have been icing it most of the night so right now it's in a happy mode. 

I have had two over the years and my son is just now back to running after being diagnosed with one in his foot.  In each case, the doctor used the "hop" test, among others.....we couldn't hop. 

Claaw....that's pretty cool...but I bet it hurts like hell for that vibration to run over a stress fracture.

2012-11-05 9:55 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?

I just had a stress reaction in my 4th metatarsal. Stress reaction happens before a stress fracture. Basically, my foot ached a lot and whenever I would walk, run, etc I got a sharp pain in one localized spot. Standing was okay, but anything where I had to push through my toes/ foot and I got the sharp pain. 

Early stress fractures/ reactions typically do not show up on x-ray. Once they start healing, you'll see new bone formation on the x-ray (the bulge that another poster was talking about). Untreated stress fractures can lead to full fractures. 

Is your pain on the top of your foot? Most foot stress fractures are in the metatarsals, but one can also get a stress fracture in the navicular bone, which is further back in the foot, though that's pretty uncommon. There are also 2 sesamoid bones basically at the 'ball' of the foot. Pain with those is usually on the bottom of the foot around the ball. 

ETA: after re-reading you post it sounds like plantar fasciitis. is the pain worse in the morning? 



Edited by mer456 2012-11-05 9:58 AM
2012-11-05 3:14 PM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?
The pain is sometimes worse right when I wake up but only if it was acting up the night before. I thought about plantar fasciitis but also thought that type of injury/pain for that was located closer to the heel area. No pain on top of the foot, only on the underside. I just ordered a tuning fork, figured it couldn't hurt to try. 
2012-11-08 1:07 PM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?
So my tuning fork came is today. No pain no matter where I touch the vibrations at. I'm gonna go with plantar fasciitis now and try taping up my foot for a few days I guess. 
2012-11-08 11:05 PM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?
Also forgot to mention, the pain is noticeably less if I run on grass/dirt instead of pavement. 


2012-11-11 11:16 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?

The pain: It's very localized on the bottom outside area of my right foot, behind the ball area but in front of the heel area.      

This could be an issue with the peroneous brevious tendonWill not show up on an X-Ray.  Will show up on a MRI.   If this issue continues you need to see the foot doctor for further workup.  Ignoring this issue could make it worse and make one a candidate for surgery.

2012-11-11 12:36 PM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?
Billyk - 2012-11-11 9:16 AM

The pain: It's very localized on the bottom outside area of my right foot, behind the ball area but in front of the heel area.      

This could be an issue with the peroneous brevious tendonWill not show up on an X-Ray.  Will show up on a MRI.   If this issue continues you need to see the foot doctor for further workup.  Ignoring this issue could make it worse and make one a candidate for surgery.

I was going to suggest tendonitis as well.  I walked in a charity walk a few years back, before I started running, 35km.  By the end of it, my right foot was super swollen and pain right where you describe.  Rest, ice, and PT cleared it up pretty quickly and with custom orthotics haven't had the problem since.

2012-11-12 2:16 AM
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Subject: RE: Humor me, what does a stress fracture in the foot feel like?
I appreciate all the responses. I ended up going get some Brooks PureConnects and was able to run today with no pain at all. I'm going to continue to ice, wrap, stretch, and keep the mileage low enough to not agitate it more and lay off the Vibrams for longer distances until my feet are strong enough. 
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