Stress Fractures2020-08-03T11:24:25+01:00

Stress Fractures

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Stress Fractures

Foot & Ankle Surgeon

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is a type of break in the bone. They occur when a moderate amount of force is applied to a bone repeatedly over a period of time. This is different from an acute injury where the bone is broken by a significant amount of force, for example a car crash, or severe twisting injury.

Stress fractures are common in the foot because we continually place loads through them by standing, walking, running and exercising. Bones that are subjected to repetitive forces become fatigued or weakened. This is called a stress reaction. This increases the risk that the bone will break and if that happens, this is known as a stress fracture.

Stress fractures often occur in 2 ways:

  • People with healthy bones overuse the foot with frequent repetitive motion. This often the case in athletes who participate in high-impact sports such as running, football and tennis.
  • People who have weak bones from an underlying condition (such as osteoporosis) can sustain a stress fracture from fairly low impact activities.

What are the symptoms of a stress fracture?

The key symptom of a stress fracture is pain. It maybe associated with bruising or swelling. The pain is often worse with impact activities and gets better with rest. If you think you may have a stress fracture, you must stop all activities that cause pain and you should seek specialist advice from a foot and ankle surgeon.

How are stress fractures diagnosed?

Many people go to A+E or their GP with these symptoms and are referred for an X-Ray which is often normal. This is because it may take some time for the bone reaction to be seen on the X-Ray. Therefore, more specialist imaging techniques such as an MRI scan can be helpful is making the diagnosis. It can also be helpful in assessing the other bones of the foot that may become susceptible to developing a stress reaction.

How are stress fractures treated?

Most stress fractures will heal on their own if you reduce your level of activity and wear protective footwear (such as a walking boot) for a period of time. This will be discussed with you by your surgeon. Typically, you should stop all high impact activity for about 6 weeks.

Simple treatments such as keeping the foot elevated and applying ice can help with the pain and help reduce the swelling. Simple painkillers such as paracetamol can help control the pain. If at all possible, it is recommended that you avoid anti-inflammatory tablets such as ibuprofen or voltarol as there is some data to suggest that they impair bone healing.

Once the pain has gone, you can slowly return to low impact activities such as swimming or cycling. For those who want to return to high impact activities, it is important to increase your running mileage slowly. You should resist the temptation to do too much, too soon as this may cause a recurrence of your symptoms.

Will I need surgery?

Fortunately surgery is rarely required and only recommended after nonsurgical approaches are not working.

How can I prevent stress fractures?

Maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring you eat calcium rich foods and Vitamin D can help with maintaining bone density. Your surgeon will often check these levels if you have symptoms of a stress fracture.

Wear appropriate footwear. Old trainers lose their shock absorbency after 500 miles and therefore it is important that you wear shoes that are fitted for your foot shape.

Avoid smoking. Both the smoke and the nicotine in cigarettes impair bone healing and may increase the time it takes for your stress fracture to heal.

Change your training pattern. Adding in some lower impact activities such as cycling and swimming to complement your running schedule can be beneficial.

Slowly increase training loads. We can all become a little too enthusiastic when starting new activities. Slowly easing into new sports can help reduce injury and prevent a stress fracture from occurring.

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Our Aim

Our aim is to help eliminate your pain and allow you to get back to the things you want to do, as quickly as possible. Experienced in the latest advances in surgery and rehabilitation, we want to get you back on your feet and help them last a lifetime.

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Meet Our Team

Mercury Foot & Ankle Surgeon Intro Video
Mr Arul Ramasamy

Consultant Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon
PhD, FRCS(Tr&Orth), DipSportsMed, MFSEM, MA(Cantab)

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Mercury Foot & Ankle Surgeon Intro Video
Mr Joel Humphrey

Consultant Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon
BSc(Hons), MBBS, MSc(SportsMed), FRCS(Tr&Orth)

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Foot & Ankle Surgeon

My condition had deteriorated to the point that I was unable to walk for extended periods of time without pain and swelling of the ankle, and I would rarely be able to join in most family activities. The support and guidance provided by Mr Ramasamy were exemplary and enabled me to make a fully informed decision regarding the options available to me. Now, the pain is much more manageable and the stability that the treatment has provided is such that I feel that I regained a significant part of my life and as such my confidence.

Private Client

I found Mr Ramasamy extremely professional and reassuring. On the day of my procedure I received the most efficient, organised and professional care in my life. Your nurses were the best I have ever experienced. Mr Ramasamy’s team, in theatre made me feel at ease and made the whole procedure more bearable. They go way beyond the extra mile for their patients.

Private Client

I wanted to share my excellent experiences and compliment Mr Ramasamy and his team. I found him extremely professional and reassured that he understood how much pain I was in. On the day of my procedure, it was the most efficient, organized and professional care I have ever received – from checking into reception to being allocated a bay and taken into theatre – your nurses in the recovery area were the best I have ever received. Mr Ramasay’s team, especially in theatre, made me feel at ease, kept me informed throughout the whole procedure and made the whole procedure more bearable.

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Health care is the diagnosis, treatment,and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical impairments in human beings.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Foot & Ankle Surgeon
What is the process if I am paying for my own treatment?2020-08-27T13:58:16+01:00

After your appointment you will be emailed an invoice to be paid within 30 days via a bank transfer.

Will my insurance cover me?2020-06-28T13:37:20+01:00

Our practice is covered by the major healthcare insurance providers. If you have private medical insurance, please contact your insurer to confirm that you are covered for your consultation and imaging appointments and whether you will need a GP referral. Please do this prior to seeing your Consultant. Your insurance company will provide you with an authorisation code which we will need when booking your appointment, along with your policy or membership details. All of this information can be obtained from your insurance company.

Depending on your specific insurance policy you may liable for some of the costs and there may be certain outpatient treatments such as joint injections and blood tests that may not be fully covered by your insurance policy. Please note, even if you are privately insured, you are entirely responsible for all of your consultants’ fees and that the contract you undertake is with your consultant and not your insurance company.

Foot & Ankle Surgeon
Foot & Ankle Surgeon
Foot & Ankle Surgeon
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Foot & Ankle Surgeon
How much does it cost?2023-03-17T15:24:59+00:00

In most cases, your outpatient costs should be covered by your insurance company, but please check as this can vary depending on your individual insurance and excess policy. If you are a self-pay, new appointments are £250 and follow up appointments are £175.

Do I need a new or follow-up appointment?2020-06-23T15:52:11+01:00

If you have not seen the Consultant previously for this problem, you have a different problem or if it is more than 1 year since your last appointment then please book a new appointment.

Do I need a referral letter?2023-03-17T15:35:57+00:00

If you are claiming through your health insurance, they may require a referral from your GP or therapist before authorising your consultation and treatment. If you are unsure then please call 01908 014 486 or email us on and one our team will be able to assist you. If you are paying for treatment yourself then you do not need a referral letter.

How do I make an appointment?2023-03-17T15:24:20+00:00

To arrange an appointment with one of our Consultants, please call 01908 014 486 or email us on

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