We underestimate what stress does to so many parts of our body. There is often both a physical and mental toll from stress. The stress we’re going to focus on here are specific areas of the feet that are impacted by it. There are times when we aren’t able to pin a definitive diagnosis on a particular problem.

Although we have more tools now than ever to diagnose things, not every foot and ankle condition is detected on an X-ray, MRI, or CAT scan. There are two areas of the foot subjected most to what we’ll call a “Stress Syndrome.” The first and maybe most obvious is the bottom of the heel. We take for granted what our heels have to endure over a lifetime. Standing on a hard surface for hours and hours only adds to what the heel has to tolerate.

Even though most of us were blessed with enough cushion in the heels to withstand a massive load, stress to the heel bone can cause pain. Plantar Fasciitis is by far the most common cause of pain in the heel, but a “stress syndrome” of the bone does occur. What makes things interesting is how the pain of these two conditions can act very much the same. Our experienced “detective” work is commonly needed to distinguish conditions like these.

The second area of the foot where a “stress syndrome” occurs commonly is the central three metatarsal bones. These bones are long and skinny making them susceptible to stress injuries. Pain and swelling on the top of the foot between the toes and the ankle could be a sign of a stress condition of one of these metatarsals. An otherwise healthy person can be the victim of a metatarsal “stress syndrome” at the drop of a hat. One moment you’re walking fine and the next your foot is killing you.

The balls and outside of the feet are two other common areas afflicted by this unkind “stress syndrome.” There are many reasons such as genetics, footwear, obesity, overuse and others that cause these “stress syndromes.” Once we feel confident a person has one of these conditions we focus on the footwear, the exercise routine, work conditions and managing the inflammation.

Given how much we use our feet, getting a “stress syndrome” to quiet down isn’t always easy. Besides the obvious goal of relieving the pain, avoiding something worse like a fracture of the bone is mission critical. We know how common it is for people to live with pain for months before seeking medical attention. A “stress syndrome” isn’t likely to magically heal just like most chronic foot and ankle conditions. We are here for you when you are ready to end a frustrating foot problem.


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