Charlie Tilson, the young centerfielder of the White Sox will start the MLB season on the disabled list as he recovers from a stress fracture in his foot. The most common area for stress fractures to occur in the foot are the metatarsals (right behind the toes), specifically the 2nd metatarsal. A stress fracture typically occurs with a small break through only a portion of the bone; unlike a traumatic fracture which typically causes a bone to break completely. Sometimes these fractures are not even found on x-ray until 10-14 days after initial injury. Further imaging such as an MRI would certainly expedite the diagnosis and may be indicated if the clinical signs match that of a stress fracture but no findings are noted on X-ray.
Presentation of stress fractures is usually accompanied by swelling and throbbing/aching pain when you are off your foot. Stress fractures very rarely need to be fixed surgically and typically being off the foot in a walking boot for 4-6 weeks will alleviate the pain and allow the fracture to heal properly. Following a stress fracture, it is recommended to transition to custom orthotics to better support the foot and prevent further breakdown from occurring again. Stress fractures can occur in other bones of the foot; however they are less common, but can be more debilitating if not treated promptly. If you are experiencing unusual pain, swelling or bruising to your foot that is persisting for more than 1-2 weeks, please contact Healthy Feet Podiatry to see one of our physicians so we can assess whether you may have a stress fracture causing your foot pain.