Stress Fractures

Stress Fractures

What are stress fractures?

What are the symptoms of a foot stress fracture?

A stress fracture may not cause obvious swelling. But symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the front of the foot, often after long or intense bouts of exercise

  • Pain that goes away during rest , then returns when exercise is continued

  • Pain that occurs and increases during normal daily activities

  • Swelling at the top of the foot or the outside of the ankle

  • Tenderness when the fracture area is touched

  • Bruises at the site of the fracture

The symptoms of stress fractures can be like other health conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a stress fracture diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a stress fracture usually is confirmed with a complete health history and a physical exam. X-rays often cannot see stress fractures because they are so fine. So a bone scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be done. Once a callus forms around the fracture, an X-ray can confirm a stress fracture.

Treatment for a stress fracture

Treatment is aimed at relieving pain and giving the fracture time to heal, usually around 6 to 8 weeks. Specific treatment for a stress fracture will depend on:

  • Your age, overall health, and health history

  • How serious your injury is

  • How well you are able to handle certain medicines, procedures, and therapies

  • How long your injury is expected to last

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Resting

  • Protecting the fracture site with reduced weight bearing

  • Using cold packs

  • Taking medicine such as ibuprofen

  • Wearing shock-absorbing shoes during exercise

  • Running on soft surfaces, such as grass

  • Doing physical therapy

  • Switching to a less stressful activity, such as swimming or biking

  • Wearing a brace, boot, or cast

Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN

Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN

Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019

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