Certain painful symptoms may indicate a stress fracture in the ankle. Because you're passionate about running, you want to do everything you can to heal quickly and prevent a recurrence. Follow strategies to accomplish these goals, including seeing a podiatrist for a definitive diagnosis, treatment and advice.
Get a Diagnosis
A foot doctor confirms your suspicion by listening to the description of your symptoms, examining your ankle directly, and reviewing X-rays or an MRI.
Rest Your Ankle
You'll need to avoid running and other impact activity for a month or two. Although that may be upsetting, it's essential for allowing your ankle to heal. If you start running before the fracture is fully mended, you will make the situation worse and will have to start all over again with the healing process.
For the first several days, keep your foot elevated whenever you can and place ice on it. Your podiatrist may want you to use crutches or a cane, at least initially. An ankle brace can be beneficial for keeping the bone stable.
Do Non-Impact Exercises
Your podiatrist can verify when the fracture has healed and tell you when it's OK to start running again. In the meantime, ask whether you can participate in swimming or water aerobics without further injuring the ankle. You can lift weights with your arms from a sitting position.
Although cycling is primarily a non-impact activity, it's problematic because you put significant pressure on your ankles while pedaling.
Change Your Diet
If you believe you're not getting enough nutrients that are essential for bone health, make diet changes or add supplements. You need sufficient calcium, vitamin D and vitamin C, for example. You might not be getting enough iron. However, taking iron supplements isn't advisable without first learning if your iron blood levels are low, because too much iron is toxic.
A blood test can determine whether you're short on any important nutrients.
Obtain Expert Advice on Shoes
Your podiatrist is an expert on proper footwear. This doctor can evaluate your feet and ankles along with the shoes you wear while running and during general daily use. You may help prevent stress fractures in the future by making a change to better footwear.
Gradually build back up to the amount of running you were doing before the fracture. You might start with one mile every other day, alternating walking with running. Increase your weekly distance by 10 percent or less every week, even if you feel impatient with that pace. Sticking with this regimen will prevent any other stress injuries from occurring, such as a muscle strain or shin splints.
If you start feeling foot or ankle pain that doesn't dissipate quickly or gets worse as you run, see a podiatrist at locations such as the Advanced Foot & Ankle Center of Palatine for assistance.