Stress Fractures: Some Take Longer to Heal Than Others
Medical Author: Benjamin C. Wedro, MD, FAAEM
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
It takes a lot of effort to support 7 feet 6 inches and the two tons of force generated when NBA basketball star Yao Ming walks or jumps. The cushioning that absorbs the shock of his weight rests on two feet and their joints, ligaments, and muscles. The force of that weight during running can multiply a person's weight by more than12 times. Unfortunately for the Houston Rocket basketball player, his bones couldn't withstand the constant pounding and he developed a stress fracture of the navicular bone of his foot.
The navicular bone helps support the arch of the foot and is a bridge between the bones of the ankle and those of the toes. The bony arch is also supported by the plantar fascia, the thick band of tissue that connects the heel to the front of the foot. The solid bones and the pliable ligaments flex the foot to disperse the forces generated with walking, running, and jumping. But if the force placed on the bone is greater than its ability to withstand it, small micro fractures can occur in the bones that can develop into a stress fracture.