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Stress Fracture of the Ankle

Fox Valley Fracture Treatment

Stress fractures are small cracks, or micro-fractures, in one or more of the bones in the ankle, foot, or heel. Stress fractures are a type of overuse injury, and typically occur when the muscles of the leg and foot become fatigued and can no longer absorb the shock of repeated impacts. When this happens, the muscles transfer the force of impact to the bones of the foot and ankle, often leading to small cracks or fractures in the bones.

Stress fractures of the ankle most commonly occur in the fibula (the outer bone of the lower leg and ankle) and the talus (the small bone in the ankle). They can also develop in the bones of the foot (the metatarsal and navicular bones) and the heel (the calcaneus bone).

Causes of Stress Fracture of the Ankle

The most common cause of stress fractures in the ankle is overuse; though that term can sometimes be misleading. Any increase in the repetitive motion of the ankle or foot can lead to the development of stress fractures. Athletes participating in running and jumping intensive sports are typically at a higher risk for stress fractures of the ankle, due to the repetitive stresses placed on the weight-bearing joints.

However, even non-athletes can develop stress fractures of the ankle or foot. A change in daily exercise routines, an increase in the frequency or duration of walking or jogging, and even a change in footwear can bring on a stress fracture.

Some underlying health conditions can also contribute to a greater risk for developing stress fractures of the ankle. Excess body weight associated with obesity can place a greater strain on the joints, making them more susceptible to stress fractures. Osteoporosis, which causes a degenerative weakening of the bones, can also put someone at a heightened risk for developing stress fractures of the ankle or foot.

Symptoms of Stress Fracture of the Ankle

The following symptoms are commonly associated with stress fractures of the ankle:

  • Pain develops gradually, increases with weight-bearing activity, and diminishes with rest
  • Pain becomes more severe and occurs during normal daily activities
  • Swelling on outside of ankle
  • Tenderness to touch at site of fracture
  • Possible bruising

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