Stress fractures are one or more tiny cracks in a bone. These fractures are common in the legs and feet. That’s because your legs and feet have to support your weight and absorb the forces of walking, running and jumping.
Causes & Triggers
Stress fractures can happen if you suddenly increase a high-impact activity. Walking or running for a much longer distance than you normally do can cause it. You can develop stress fractures if you switch from a soft surface to a hard or uneven one. It can happen if you don’t wear the proper shoes, or if you have poor training techniques. Your risk is higher if you have weak bones because of a medical condition or because of a medication you take.
- Changes in playing surface
- Improper shoes or equipment
- Overuse or overload of stress on the foot
- Rapid increase in activity or intensity
- Repetitive stress, especially from sports activities like tennis, running, gymnastics
Signs & Symptoms
Stress fractures cause pain and tenderness. It hurts more when you’re active, and it feels better when you rest. You may also have swelling and bruising.
- Pain that subsides with rest
Tips & Treatment
Treatment options include rest, medications, and shoes that protect your feet. You may benefit from a cast that immobilizes your foot while it heals. If these aren’t helpful, you may need surgery. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that’s right for you.
- More than half of all stress fractures occur in the lower leg and foot.
- Women are more prone to stress fractures than men.
- Treatment requires rest from the offending activity and very gradual resumption but only when pain-free.
- Orthotics or shoe inserts and/or braces may help in healing.
- Eat well and exercise sensibly, including eating a calcium-rich diet and cross-training with a variety of activities and exercise options.
- Support feet with proper, well-fitting shoes.