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Causes and Symptoms of Stress Fracture

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Abhishek Kumar Mishra 90% (13 ratings)
MS - Orthopaedics, MCH, Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS), MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, FJR
Orthopedist, Delhi  •  20 years experience
Causes and Symptoms of Stress Fracture

Stress fractures are small cracks that may appear in a bone. It occurs due to repetitive application of force in the same area. It is very common among various sports such as running, tennis and football. It may also occur due to osteoporosis as this disorder weakens the bones and allows stress fractures to occur easily.

The majority of stress fractures occur due to overuse of a specific muscle. The bones and the muscles used in a specific movement do not get time to recover, thus leading to stress fracture.

Causes: The major cause of stress fracture is change in physical activity, such as a sudden increase in exercise. The other factors that may lead to stress fracture are -

  1. Poor conditioning: If you are starting an exercise regimen without proper preparation, then it may cause stress on the muscles. It is important that you condition your body before doing any intense activity to prevent injuries.
  2. Bone insufficiency: Various disorders such as osteoporosis reduces bone strength and increases the likelihood of a stress fracture. If you have low bone density then you are at a higher risk of having stress fractures.
  3. Change in surface: Change in surface like shifting from running on grass to road tends to cause more stress on the legs, thus increasing the likelihood of a fracture.
  4. Improper form: Performing any exercise with improper form may lead to a number of injuries. It is recommended to learn the correct technique before exercising, so you may use a spotter or a trainer to guide you.

Symptoms
The symptoms of a stress fracture are: 

  1. Pain: You may experience dull to severe pain if you have stress fractures. The severity of pain will depend on the severity of the fracture.
  2. Swelling: Pain may be accompanied by swelling on the sides and the top of the foot.
  3. Tenderness: Stress fractures may cause tenderness in the muscles around the affected area.
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