The symptoms of a foot stress fracture will generally develop over time and become more severe as the injury progresses. Symptoms may include:
- Tenderness. The injured bone may feel painful or sore when touched; this is called “pinpoint pain”.
- Deep, dull pain. The pain may be felt deep within the foot or toes.
- Weakness. The area where the fracture is located may feel weak and normal performance may be diminished.
- Intermittent pain. Pain caused by a stress fracture will typically intensify during weight-bearing activity and diminish during rest.
- Swelling. The injured foot may appear swollen; this can occur anywhere on the foot but it is most likely to be seen on the top portion because of injury to a metatarsal.
- Changes in biomechanics. Some may notice they are running or walking differently to avoid putting pressure on the painful area.
- Sharp, localized pain. Putting weight on the foot may cause sharp pain at the site of the fracture, especially in injuries that have progressed.
- Bruising. The area around the fracture may appear reddish, bluish, or purplish in color because of blood rushing towards the injury.
Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms. In some cases, symptoms may go away for a period of time and return worse than they were before.
The bones of the feet are small and intricate, which means symptoms may be difficult to recognize. To avoid further injury to the foot, it is recommended that high-impact activity be stopped at the first sign of a stress fracture. If the injury is ignored for too long, a stress fracture can become a complete bone break.
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Without treatment, the symptoms of a foot stress fracture will become more severe. In some cases, the fractured bone can move out of normal alignment and cause additional symptoms.
If pain and discomfort persist after a period of rest, a visit to a health care professional is recommended.