Dealing With Stress Fractures: Diagnosis And Recovery


A stress fracture can be defined as one or more tiny cracks that happen in the bones. This is common in lower legs and feet and happens to those who overuse them or engage in sports that require a lot of movements and apply a lot of stress and pressure on these body parts.

All About Stress Fractures

A stress fracture usually happens when you use s bone too much without giving it enough rest and when this bone does not get proper time to recover from this stress small cracks start to appear on the bones. The crack does not form all of a sudden. A bone bruise will be formed initially and gradually it will develop into a crack that appears on the surface of the bone. 

Athletes who participate in track and field are at high risk of stress fractures. Secondly, it is most commonly seen in military recruits who go long distances carrying heavy packs. 

Dealing With Stress Fractures

How To Diagnose Stress Fractures?

You cannot identify stress fractures all by yourself so easily as there is no popping sound or sudden extreme pain when this happens. It is because a stress fracture that happens to a bone does not occur in the blink of an eye and it is something that develops over time. Just like the term used to refer to it, ‘stress fracture’, the condition denotes that it is a fracture, a crack in the bone, that is caused by stress. 

The lower legs and feet are prone to this as the part of the body that carries the whole weight of the body, whenever the boy is in motion such as running walking, or kicking a ball these are the body parts that carry the whole body.

Common Symptoms Of Stress Fractures 

  • Gradually worsening pain
  • Pain becomes worse during physical activity
  • Pain continues even after stopping the physical activity 
  • Tenderness in a specific spot
  • Tenderness even when you gently touch on or around the injured bone
  • Visible inflammation around the area of pain
  • Pain even when you are resting 

How To Diagnose Stress Fractures, Medically?

When you doubt having developed a stress fracture it can be verified with a set of medical tests. They are:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Whole body bone scan

How To Recover From Stress Fractures?

You can recover from stress fractures and there are a lot of methods. Let us look at what you can do to recover from stress fractures. 

  • Pause 

You will have to take a break from physical activities, especially from certain sports activities that stress the injured bone

  • Ice 

Ice the injured bone using a cold pack or you can also wrap ice cubes in clothes.

  • Medication

Some medications can help you to reduce and relieve the pain caused by stress fractures. Only take the medications prescribed by your doctor. 

  • Compression 

This is to lower the blood flow to the injured bone to control the swelling

  • Use crutch

You can use crutches to walk to reduce the pressure that the injured bone feels. 

  • Keep the injured leg or feet high

Keep your injured leg or feet at a level above your heart and avoid hanging down the feet. 

  • Immobilize 

This is to decrease the pressure that gets directly applied to the injury and for that, you can wear special shoes or a cast. 

The Bottom Line 

Sports players who indulge in sports that require repetitive and constant motion of leg movements suffer the most from stress fractures. It can be treated and all you have to do is diagnose it at the right time.

It can be difficult to identify stress fractures as they do not happen all of a sudden. However, if you notice a growing pain in your leg or feet, you should consult a doctor to know the reason behind it. Stress fractures will require you to take a break but you can return to the sports with time. 

Read More: Physical Therapy For Marathon Runners: Is It Beneficial For Your Performance?


1. Can you fully recover from a stress fracture?

Yes, generally you can completely recover from stress fractures. It can take up to 8 weeks to fully heal in most cases. This is the time required by the body to develop new bone cells and to do the repairing.

2. What foods help heal stress fractures?

You have to intake foods rich in potassium and vitamin K. Food items such as egg yolk, fortified milk, bananas, and spinach can support stress fracture healing.

3. What makes stress fractures worse?

Continuing to do weight-bearing activities such as running even with extreme pain and not getting enough rest can make the stress fractures worse. 

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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