What are the Different Stress Fracture Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Stress fracture symptoms are something that anyone who is at risk of developing a stress fracture should be aware of. Common stress fracture symptoms include pain that gets worse with increased activity, and eases with rest, and pain that occurs early in a workout, and appears progressively earlier with successive workouts. Pain from stress fracture will become worse over time, and eventually the pain will continue even at rest.

Swelling at the site of the injury is one of the most common stress fracture symptoms. It may be possible to pinpoint the exact point of fracture by pressing with the fingers. The area with the stress fracture will be extremely tender to the touch.

Stress fracture symptoms are very mild to begin with, but become more pronounced as the fracture continues to develop. A stress fracture is a series of tiny cracks in one area of the bone. Stress fractures are most common because of overuse, but can also develop with regular use in people who have osteoporosis or low bone density.

Stress fracture symptoms are most common in weight bearing bones, such as the bones of the lower legs and feet. Pain in these areas that does not go away after a warm-up period is often related to bone problems, and may indicate a stress fracture. Pain that goes away during warm up is typically related to muscle issues.


Some people are more likely than others to develop stress fractures. They include athletes who participate in high impact activity such as gymnastics and running, anyone who dramatically increases their exercise routine, anyone suffering from osteoporosis, and those with flat feet or high arches. Female athletes who have irregular or absent menstrual periods are also more likely to develop stress fractures. This is because irregular or absent periods often coincide with low bone density.

Although rest is often enough to heal a minor stress fracture, proper medical advice is important. A fracture that does not heal properly can lead to chronic pain at the location of the fracture. Anyone experiencing stress fracture symptoms should visit their healthcare provider. A stress fracture is diagnosed with a magnetic resonance imaging study (MRI) or a bone scan. A stress fracture will not be visible on a traditional x-ray until up to one month after the stress fracture develops.


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