A stress 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 symptoms and past health. They will also ask about regular activities. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect a stress fracture based on symptoms.
Pictures may be taken if pain is severe or fracture is not healing as expected. Tests may be:
- MRI scan
- CT scan
- Bone scan
It can take 6 to 8 weeks for a stress fracture to heal. The goal of treatment is to help the bones heal properly to prevent long term problems.
Support for a stress fracture can include:
- Medicine to ease pain and swelling
- A walking boot to support the bone as it heals
- A cane or crutches to allow movement with less stress on the bone
- Exercises to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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