Stress fractures

Hairline fractures

Fractures of the bone that are caused by repeated stress over time, making them a common sporting injury

What is a stress fracture?

Stress fractures are hairline cracks in the bones, usually in the lower leg and feet, and a common sports injury. They are caused by repeated shock and overload from, for example, running on hard surfaces or certain exercises such as gymnastics, tennis, dance and athletics. If you feel pain during exercise, we can help screen for stress fractures.

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of stress fractures? icon plus

    If you have a stress fracture, you'll most likely notice pain during exercise which will lessen once you rest. It tends to be more common in women.
  • Screening and diagnosis icon plus

    If you think you may have a stress fracture, it's important to diagnose it early. Your consultant will examine the area and ask about your lifestyle and exercise routine.

    You'll have an X-ray of the area that's causing you pain. If this doesn't show up any smaller cracks or reveals evidence of partial healing, you may also have an MRI or CT scan.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Rest is the most effective way to recover from stress fractures. If there's a risk of the fracture getting worse, your consultant may advise a cast and crutches. You consultant may also refer you to our foot orthotics team, who can look at your foot posture. This can reduce the impact on areas of your feet and legs, and may help prevent injuries in the future. It's important to follow the advice given as returning to exercise too early can cause longer term injuries.

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020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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