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Stress Fracture of the Foot: Care Instructions

Bones of the foot

Your Care Instructions

A stress fracture is a thin, or hairline, crack in a bone. A stress fracture usually happens from repeated pressure on the foot, like running or jumping. You may need 6 to 8 weeks to heal.

Treatment depends on where the fracture is and how much pain it causes. Do not return to your usual exercise until your doctor says you can. Continued use of an injured foot can make the break worse or keep it from healing.

You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about how much weight you can put on your foot and when you can go back to your usual activities. Use crutches as instructed.
  • If your doctor suggests it, put ice or a cold pack on your foot for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Keep your splint or cast dry.
  • Prop up your foot on a pillow when you ice it or anytime you sit or lie down for the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Your doctor may have recommended a cast, a splint, or a special shoe or shoe insert. Follow the instructions your doctor gave you for using any of these treatments.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have increased or severe pain.
  • Your foot is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your foot and toes.
  • Your cast or splint feels too tight.
  • You cannot move your toes.
  • You have a lot of swelling below your cast.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Pain does not get better day by day.
  • The skin under your cast or splint burns or stings.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.