Stress Fractures

What are stress fractures, and how are they treated?

What Is a Stress Fracture?

A stress fracture is a small crack (or severe bruising) in a bone. This is a common injury that generally occurs among athletes or those who participate in high-impact sports and activities.

If you have had a recent sports injury and wonder if you have a stress fracture, schedule a consultation with our team at OrthoNeuro.

Our expert orthopedic specialists offer personalized treatment plans in sports medicine for various sports injuries. So call or book an appointment today.

What Causes Stress Fractures?

Stress fractures occur when there is overuse of a bone over time.

Athletes and those who participate in high-impact exercise and sports are more prone to develop stress fractures. Around 50% of sports injuries are overuse injuries.

Stress fractures can occur anywhere in the body where there are repetitive movements. Stress fractures often affect weight-bearing bones in your foot and ankle.

These bones absorb the repetitive stress caused by walking, jumping, and running. This is why most athletes are susceptible to stress fractures in their feet and lower legs.

Although stress fractures (also called hairline fractures) are common among athletes, they can affect anyone who performs an activity with a repetitive force on the bone.

Certain risk factors, such as being overweight or having osteoporosis which decreases bone density and strength, can also cause a stress fracture.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Stress Fracture?

Most often, the initial signs of a stress fracture can be mild. This makes them easy to ignore or brush aside.

However, the longer you allow the repetitive forces to damage the bone without time to heal, the more likely the fracture can worsen.

The signs of a stress fracture include:

  • Pain that eases while resting
  • Pain, tenderness, and aching that worsens after or during an exercise
  • Swelling around the affected area
  • Bruising around the affected area

It is essential to see a healthcare professional if you experience these symptoms to have stress fractures diagnosed and avoid further risk to the damaged bone.

How Is a Stress Fracture Diagnosed?

A hairline fracture can be difficult to diagnose. For a diagnosis, your doctor will first conduct a physical examination. Then you will be asked about your medical history and level of physical activity. 

In addition, you will be asked to describe your symptoms. Your doctor may then order certain imaging tests such as an X-ray, an MRI, or a bone scan to confirm the presence and location of the fracture.

What Is the Treatment for a Stress Fracture?

Surgery is not usually needed to heal a stress fracture. Most stress fractures heal within 6 to 8 weeks with proper rest.

The RICE method is a tried and true treatment method to treat stress fractures. This healing process includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the affected area.

Your doctor might also prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers to help reduce the pain and inflammation in the painful area. 

You may also require crutches, a walking boot, or a brace in the injured area to reduce stress, limit mobility, and help the painful area heal properly.

Without proper treatments, a stress fracture can worsen and even cause a complete fracture. This leads to more intense pain and maybe even displacement of the injured bone.

In this case, surgery might be required to heal the affected bone.

Certain things can be done to prevent stress fractures, such as using proper footwear, doing low-impact activities to avoid repetitive movement in the affected area, and getting the proper nutrition.


Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists at OrthoNeuro have helped thousands of patients with stress fractures return to an active and healthy lifestyle using a variety of treatment options. 

Make an appointment with an OrthoNeuro specialist today!

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Specialist Today!

If you have been experiencing symptoms of a stress fracture, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you.

Our Specialists

“I love this group of Doctors. They have specialists to cover what ever part of the body is in need of treatment. Every doctor i have seen in this practice have had a very good bedside manner and very knowledgeable. I highly recommend this practice for all your orthopedic and neurological needs.”
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