Stress Fracture

A stress fracture refers to the weakening of a bone due to overuse or repetitive movement. The affected bone will sustain smaller, unnoticeable breaks over time that eventually leads to a full fracture or break.

Unlike a standard fracture that happens immediately after a high force or impact, a stress fracture occurs over time. Typically, this happens after you have increased your activity level in a short period of time, such as running a lot after a period of inactivity. In these situations, your body cannot repair from the increase in activity before you do it again.

Stress fractures are often seen in the lower leg, hip, and foot bones. Pain is often felt during activity and may subside with rest.


  • Pain and tenderness in the affected area
  • Decreased range of motion in the affected and surrounding areas


  • Recent increase in exercise or physical training such as running too many miles too soon, throwing too much too soon, or even walking an excessive distance too soon
  • Improper body mechanics performing the activity

Risk Factors

  • Weakened bones
  • Muscle weakness
  • Leg length discrepancies
  • Conditions such as osteoporosis, diabetes, and post-menopause


  • Physical examination of the affected area
  • X-ray or bone scan to show condition of bones and location of the break
  • MRI or CT scan to show muscle and soft tissue health

Treatment Options

  • Cast or boot immobilization of the affected area to allow bones to heal in proper alignment
  • Use of crutches, walker, or cane to bear weight
  • Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief
  • Surgical repair in extreme cases