Why You Should Not Ignore Stress Fractures


As the name suggests, they’re tiny cracks most common in the bones of your feet and legs. Athletes, people who suddenly change their level of activity, and people in the military who carry heavy packs over long distances are all at an increased risk of stress fractures. Stress fractures may not be as serious or painful as other broken bones, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Left untreated, the tiny cracks can lead to potentially serious complications that interfere with your everyday life.

Cause & Symptoms of Stress Fracture

Stress fractures usually derive from the repetitive force on a bone related to overuse. They can also stem from a condition that weakens your bones, such as osteoporosis.

Starting a new activity and doing too much too soon or overexercising, in general, can also cause tiny breaks. Once you have one, pain and tenderness worsen with activity, and you may begin to have some swelling.

Once you become aware that the pain is worsening, you should get treatment. You may notice some tenderness around the area or even see some bruising.

Stress Fracture Diagnosis & Treatment

Your doctor may need to do several tests to see if you have a stress fracture and the severity of the fracture. These tests can include:

  • Physical Examination

Your doctor will do a physical exam on your first visit and discuss your risk factors for developing a stress fracture. When discussing risk factors, you will be asked about your medical history, work, activities, or any medications you might be taking.

  • X-Rays

X-Rays may not help diagnose a stress fracture unless it has started to heal. When the bone starts to heal, it creates a callus, or lump, that can be seen on X-Rays. With a high index of suspicion for a stress fracture, your doctor may recommend an imaging test that includes Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or Bone Scan.

Once your provider has diagnosed you with a stress fracture, they’ll recommend your ideal treatment plan. It usually takes about 6-8 weeks for a stress fracture to heal. During that time, you may need to use the classic RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to ease the pain and swelling.

Other treatments depend on the location and severity of your injury. Your doctor may suggest protective footwear, a cast, or other measures. In some cases, surgery is necessary to stabilize your bones.

Stress Fracture Treatment at Orthopedic Specialist

Rather than waiting for the worst possible outcome, seeking an exam and consultation to identify stress fractures are recommended. Our team of experts at Orthopedic Specialist combine a breadth of experience and effective, cutting-edge technology to treat fractures of all severity levels. Schedule an appointment with Orthopedic Specialist with a simple form fill up or phone call. We’ll be happy to help.