A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the bone. They are most common in the lower leg and foot.
This fracture is caused by repeated stress or overuse from:
- Increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too quickly
- Changing to a new playing surface
- Not wearing the right shoes or wearing old shoes for a sport
Stress fractures are more common in women. Things that may raise the risk of this fracture are:
- A sudden increase in activity
- Not getting enough rest between physical activities
- Playing sports that involve running and jumping, such as track and field, tennis, gymnastics, and basketball
- Having female athlete triad
- Bone disorders, such as osteoporosis and Paget disease
- Low levels of vitamin D and calcium
- Alcohol use disorder
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked about the activities that you do. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of the bone. This can be done with:
It can take six to eight weeks for a stress fracture to heal. The goals of treatment are to manage pain and support the bone as it heals. Options may be:
- Medicine to ease pain and swelling
- Shoe inserts or braces to help a foot or leg stress fracture heal
- Crutches or a cane to keep weight off off of a foot or leg stress fracture
- Exercises to help with muscle strength and range of motion will be needed.
To lower the chance of a stress fracture:
- Increase the amount and intensity of activities slowly over time.
- Make any changes to playing surfaces slowly over time.
- Wear the right shoes for sports.
- Eat a diet that contains foods with vitamin D and calcium.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
- Review Date: 09/2019 -
- Update Date: 09/30/2019 -