A stress fracture is a very small, fine break in the bone caused by continuous overuse. Stress fractures often occur in the foot after training for basketball, running, and other sports. While stress fractures can occur in many bones that are subjected to repetitive activities, the bones of the legs and feet are at greatest risk. The bones in the midfoot (metatarsals) in runners are especially vulnerable to stress fractures.
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 after exercise, then returns when exercise is continued
The symptoms of stress fractures can be like other health conditions. Always see your doctor for a diagnosis.
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 an MRI may be done. Once calluses form around the fracture, an X-ray can confirm 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:
Protection of the fracture site with reduced weight bearing
Medicine such as ibuprofen
Shock-absorbing shoes to use during exercise
Running on soft surfaces, such as grass
Switching to a less stressful activity, such as swimming or biking
Wearing a brace or cast
Your Family's Health