For many athletes, the most frustrating injury they can develop is a stress fracture. It does not only disrupt athletic activities but more so, it pushes one to give up even the simplest of daily routines. While the nature of this injury can be a cruel one to combat, it is crucial to getting back faster and healthier. While there are many ways to treat stress fractures, one of the most popular options would be using a controlled ankle motion (CAM) boot. But, how does a boot help a stress fracture?
What is a Stress Fracture?
A stress fracture usually happens when a bone breaks or cracks in the bone occur. Stress fractures typically occur when a considerable amount of force is applied to a bone repeatedly over long periods. A traumatic fracture, on the other hand, is caused by a significant amount of force that is suddenly applied.
Stress fractures usually occur in foot and ankle bones because we constantly place force on them by standing, walking, running, and jumping. In a stress fracture, the bone breaks but usually stays in position.
The force that causes a stress fracture can be compared to those when you bend a paper clip. If you bend a paper clip once, it will not break. But if you continue to bend it back and forth multiple times, the metal becomes frail and eventually breaks. Bones that are exposed to repetitive force can experience a similar type of weariness called a “stress reaction.” Stress reaction increases the risk of breakage or stress fracture.
How Does a Boot Help a Stress Fracture?
A walking boot is a kind of medical shoe that is used to protect the foot and ankle after a surgery or injury. The boot can be used to mobilize broken bones, tendon injuries, severe sprains, or even shin splints. It keeps the foot stable as it heals. Walking boots or CAM boots keep your weight off an injured area. Most boots have between 2 and 5 adjustable straps that go mid-way up your calf.
The idea behind a walking boot is to completely immobilize your ankle and foot bones, so as not to disturb the healing process. Usually, if you have pain in the area of the stress fracture, your doctor may advise you to wear the CAM boot while walking, however, take the boot off daily for maintenance exercises. Complete immobilization will leave you to sport on a stiff, weak, unstable ankle that will put you at risk of continued injury.
How to Put on a Walking Boot
Here’s a guide on how to put on a walking boot properly.
- Sit down and position your heel all the way to the back of the boot.
- Wrap the soft inner liner around your entire foot and leg.
- Place the front piece over the soft liner.
- Fasten the straps closest to your toes then move up to your leg.
- Tighten the straps to a snug. But avoid strapping too tightly. The boot is designed to limit movement but not cut off your blood flow. Tighten the straps to a snug. But avoid strapping too tightly. The boot is designed to limit movement but not cut off your blood flow.
- If your boot has air chambers, pump them up as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Stand up practice walking.
- Remember to deflate the air chambers before removing the boot.
Other Important Things you Need to Know
Check your foot and toes often.
Check your foot and toes for any redness and swelling. If your toes start to become red, swell, numb, or tingle, try loosening your straps or deflating the air chamber. It will reduce swelling from the injury or surgery over time.
Be careful when walking on wet surfaces.
The walking boot may be slippery. So take extra precautions when walking on wet surfaces.
Follow the instructions carefully on how to wash the liner.
Remove the liner and wash it by hand in cold water using a mild detergent. Never use a washing machine or dryer. Air-dry the liner. Wash the plastic parts using a damp cloth and mild soap.
Remove the boot when taking a bath and before doing motion exercises.
Ask your health provider if you need to remove the boot to take a bath or to do daily exercises. As stated earlier, removing the boot while doing exercises can help the bone cope and heal much faster. It also prevents the weakening of your leg muscles.
During the early phase of healing, your doctor may recommend changing your schedule to heal the foot, which is experiencing the stress fracture effectively. Slowly increase how often and how actively you exercise. A walking boot can help lessen the pain caused by the stress fracture and can aid support, especially when walking. However, if the activities that caused the stress fracture are resumed too quickly, you may develop a more severe stress fracture that is harder to heal. If you re-injure the bone, it can lead to long-term complications, and the stress fracture might never heal properly. Know more about body braces.