stress fracture

Management of a stress fracture of the foot

Fact Checked

A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone which is usually caused by the repetitive forces usually by overuse such as repeatedly performing jumping up and down movements or running long distances. A stress fracture can develop from normal use of bone that becomes weakened by certain conditions such as osteoporosis.

The fracture is likely to occur in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot. People playing tract and field are susceptible to a stress fracture on foot but anyone can also be affected.

Stress fractures of the foot happens mostly in the 2nd and 3rd metatarsals in the foot which are thin and longer than the adjacent metatarsals. This is the area of the foot when a strong force is placed when running and walking. A fracture can also happen in the calcaneous heel, fibula which is the outer bone of the lower and ankle, talus or small bone in the joint of the ankle and the navicular.

Causes of a stress fracture of the foot

  • A sudden increase in activity such as performing excessive exercises in a week, running long distances, walking excessively on uneven surfaces and wearing a new style of footwear which lessens the ability of the foot to absorb repetitive forces and leads to a stress fracture.
  • Suffering from bone conditions such as osteoporosis.
  • Poor conditioning of the body
  • Using incorrect techniques when performing activities
    Stress fracture
    A sudden increase in activity such as performing excessive exercises in a week, running long distances, walking excessively on uneven surfaces
  • Changes in the training surface or playing surface increases the risk of developing a fracture in the foot.
  • Wearing worn out or flimsy shoes that are not capable of absorbing shock


  • Pain that lessens with rest
  • Swelling on top of the foot or outside of the ankle
  • Pain that becomes worse during normal daily activities
  • Tenderness of the affected area
  • Bruising of the area


  • Take plenty of rest and avoid activities that place weight on the foot. Wear densely-soled cork sandals and avoid wearing slippers.
  • Seek medical advice on using crutches or boots. Crutches are necessary for the healing of the area and lessens the weight on the foot. Healing usually takes place during sleeping.
  • Apply an ice pack immediately after the injury to minimize swelling. Use cold packs and wrap it in a towel and place on the affected area for at least 20 minutes at a time several times throughout the day. Avoid placing the ice pack straight on the skin without covering to prevent frostbite.
  • Compress the affected area using a soft bandage to minimize the swelling.
  • Elevate the affected foot as often as possible above the level of the heart.
  • Take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen to lessen the pain and swelling.

FACT CHECK–conditions/stress-fractures-of-the-foot-and-ankle/

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • All content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional