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Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Bone trauma and fractures

Question: Stress fracture found a year later...can it still heal?

 Gimpygal - Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:57 pm

Over a year ago, I ran into the outside corner of a protruding wall while running and broke the long bone of my middle toe quite badly. It broke at a diagonal clean through the length of the bone. It took 3 months in a post op shoe and on crutches before I could bear weight without shooting pain. I continued to have issues with the three middle toes and the front half of my foot after it had supposedly healed, but I was told it was probably tissue damage and to give it I did.

Recently it flared up quite badly and I went to a different doc for x-rays and another opinion. The x-rays showed that the broken toe had not healed very well because it was not set and the raw ends did not meet up well. This is secondary to the other finding though. The new x-rays show a stress fracture in the metatarsal bone just below the broken toe bone. This fracture runs the center third of the bone. Because it was not known at the time, it did not heal because it would have required a cast or surgical boot in order to do so effectively.

I’m advised to wear a surgical boot for 8-12 weeks now to see if the fracture will stabilize. The Doc is hoping this will also allow more time for the toe to heal better. This sounds good to me, since I don’t want to be “Gimpygal” my whole life.

My concern is that everyone who thinks they know anything is telling me that stress fractures never really heal and that a year after a break heals, it’s as healed as it ever will be.

It would give me great comfort to hear that this is not true and that my Doc is correct and it still stands a good chance of healing. Which is right? Can I still heal with stabilization at this point?

If so, are there additional tips to help the healing process along. I do plan on taking more calcium and vitamin D. Are icing, heat therapy, elevation and the like any use at this point? What else can I do to help myself if anything? Thank you for any advise and support.
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:24 pm

User avatar Hello,
The stress fracture can heal - no doubt. Wearing the surgical boot eliminates the stress on the bone allowing for healing.

It is questionable whether the stress fracture occurred with the initial trauma or secondarily to the mal union of the oblique fracture and compensatory foot movements.

Nevertheless, what you are doing is right and more will be revealed in 8-12 weeks as to whether this bone will heal properly.

Let us know how it goes.
 Gimpygal - Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:56 pm

Thanks so much for the reply. This confirmation is very comforting. I will wear the Aircast and let you know in a few weeks how it's coming along. Thanks so very much! I feel much better about it now.

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