Stress fractures are rather common in the foot as a result of repetitive stress caused by walking, running, or other physical activity over time. Specifically, a stress fracture refers to a small break in the bone that, with proper treatment, can heal itself over a period of several weeks. The only way to confirm a stress fracture is to see a podiatrist, so if you have been experiencing ongoing foot pain, scheduling an appointment should be your first step. Upon diagnosis of a stress fracture, there are some important guidelines you'll also want to follow to expedite healing and avoid future problems.

DO Determine the Likely Cause

The best way to avoid a future stress fracture is to work with your podiatrist to determine what most likely caused your current situation. Typically, your podiatrist will be able to figure this out by asking you some questions about your physical activity. For example, if you've been training for a marathon lately, there's a good chance that over-exertion, poorly fitting running shoes, or a combination of both caused the fracture. When you're given the "all-clear" to return to training, you may want to take it easier and/or get custom fitted for a pair of supportive running shoes.

DON'T Deviate From Doctor's Orders

More than likely, you'll be given an orthopedic boot to wear as part of your stress fracture treatment. The purpose of this boot is to immobilize your foot and promote healing. The boot is not the most comfortable thing in the world (far from it), but the more consistently you wear it, the quicker your body can heal. Always wear the boot when walking and follow your doctor's recommendations regarding when to remove the boot.

DO Be Prepared for Regular Follow-Ups

Stress fractures heal very slowly, so you should expect to have to attend regular follow-up appointments to check on the progress of your healing. Typically, progress is determined through the use of X-rays, so don't be surprised if your doctor wants you to come in once every few weeks to make sure your bones are healing properly.

DON'T Overlook Orthopedic Insoles

There's a good chance that your doctor will recommended custom-fitted insoles as a means of providing added foot support and reducing your chances of further foot injuries in the future. Oftentimes, these are covered by insurance, so it's not a bad idea to have them made if recommended by your doctor.