If you have a severe pain in your foot that aches at night, but is barely noticeable during the day while you use the foot, talk with your doctor about seeing a podiatrist to determine if you have stress fractures. Stress fractures in the foot can be incredibly painful and can get worse quickly if they go without treatment.
To determine if you have a stress fracture your physician will talk with you about your symptoms and do a physical examination of the foot. Here are three different imaging tests you should consider getting done before you see the specialist so you have the images in hand at your appointment.
The x-ray is the quickest option and some orthopedic doctors or podiatrists have an x-ray machine in their office, but stress fractures don't always show up on these films. If the doctor can see the stress fractures or other possible problems like bone spurs on the x-ray, other imaging tests probably aren't needed.
The MRI isn't just going to show the bones, but also the tissues like the muscles and ligaments. It will show if you have a pinched or torn ligament in the foot that needs repaired, or if there are arthritis problems in the foot because the tissues are deteriorating. It can take more time to schedule an MRI and to get the results, in comparison to an x-ray.
An ultrasound can be taken in-office if the foot specialist has one, or taken before the appointment at an imaging center, such as at EVDI Medical Imaging. This is a great option for diagnostic purposes when dealing with stress fractures, and also for treatment as well. Some physicians prescribe ultrasonic treatment to help relieve pain and heal the bones that are suffering with fractures, along with massage therapy and other things.
Stress fractures can take a long time to heal and a foot specialist may want you to stop walking on the foot completely until the fractures are gone. This may include wearing a walking boot, using crutches and other treatment. Call the foot specialist and ask them what type of imaging test they want you to have done before you go into the office, so you can get the test scheduled and completed with the results right away, or plan on going to your appointment early to have the image taken in office. Don't waste any time getting into the doctor because small stress fractures can turn into large fractures.