Stress fractures, small cracks in the bone that can occur in the foot or ankle that are often associated with basketball, distance running and other high-impact sports, are generally caused by repeated stress of the foot striking the ground. However, recently the wearers of toning shoes, including Skechers Shape-Ups, have been reporting an increasing number of stress fractures that occur when they were wearing the shoes during walking and normal daily activities.
How do Toning Shoes Like Skechers Shape-Ups Cause Stress Fractures?
Skechers Shape-Ups and other toning shoes change a wearer’s gait, causing instability. This unstable gait can increase pressure on areas of the foot and ankle that are not able to absorb the added shock. In addition to stress fractures, the unstable gait created by Skechers Shape-Ups and similar toning shoes can also make wearers more prone to falls, as well as hip injuries, and tendon and ligament damage.
What is a Stress Fracture?
According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), stress fractures occur when muscles become fatigued and are unable to absorb added shock. Overtime, the muscles transfer this added shock to the bones, which can cause a tiny break known as a stress fracture. Stress fractures are most common the bones of the lower legs, including feet and ankles.
What Causes a Stress Fracture of the Ankle or Foot?
Stress fractures of the ankle or foot are caused by the repetitive stress of the foot striking the ground. Athletes most at risk for these types of fractures include those who participate in tennis, track and field, gymnastics, and basketball. While anyone who subjects their bones to repetitive stress can sustain a stress fracture, they do seem to affect women somewhat more than men. Failure to rest adequately between workouts is a major cause of stress fractures, according to the AAOS.
What are the Symptoms of a Stress Fracture?
According to the AAOS, the major stress fracture symptoms include:
- Pain that develops gradually, increases with weight-bearing activity, and diminishes with rest
- Pain that becomes more severe and occurs during normal, daily activities
- Swelling on the top of the foot or the outside of the ankle
- Tenderness to touch at the site of the fracture
- Possible bruising
What are the Possible Complications of a Stress Fracture?
Stress fractures that don’t heal properly can lead to chronic pain. Potential complications of an untreated stress fracture include:
- Arthritis in the foot or ankle
- Blood vessel injury Compartment syndrome (increased pressure inside a muscle compartment that can lead to muscle and tissue death)
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- Septic arthritis (severe inflammation of a joint caused by a bacterial infection)
- Deep venous thrombosis (blood clot in a vein, usually the leg)
- Nerve injury
- Thrombophlebitis (Inflammation of a vein that lies beneath the skin)
How are Stress Fractures Treated?
Stress fracture patients are advised to limit weight-bearing activity, and limit or stop the activity that caused the injury until healing has occurred. Medications such as ibuprofen may be helpful in reducing inflammation and pain. A walking boot or brace along with a cast or crutches may be prescribed to help rest the injured area and limit the amount of weight bearing allowed. A doctor may also recommend physical therapy to strengthen the area where the fracture occurred.
If a patient follows their doctor’s directions, most stress fractures will heal in between 4 and 12 weeks. However, if a stress fracture has resulted in bone displacement or does refuse to heal, surgery may be needed.