Stress Fractures

You want to get back in shape? You want to start an exercise program? There are some things you need to know before you do. Besides clearance from your family practitioner, the most important thing you need to worry about is a stress fracture.

What is a stress fracture? A stress fracture is a structural weakness in a bone that if not appropriately cared for can lead to a complete fracture.
How does a stress fracture occur? When a sudden increase in force is repetitively placed on an area of a bone. For instance, you have not participated in any type of exercise program in quite some time and you decide to start training for a marathon by running 3-4 miles a day at a fairly quick pace. You have just set yourself up for a stress fracture.

Where are you most likely to experience a stress fracture? In the foot, the bones most likely to suffer a stress fracture are the 2nd and 5th metatarsal and the calcaneus and in the leg, the tibia.

The interesting thing is that stress fractures are not initially visible on x-ray. It will typically take about 2 weeks for a stress fracture to be visible on radiographic evaluation. Your clinical presentation will lead your physician to the diagnosis of a stress fracture, especially if no fracture is seen on initial x-ray evaluation.

Typical treatment entails:

  • Reduced activity
  • Your physician may put you in a walking boot or cast
  • Minimal to NO weight bearing
  • NSAIDs
  • Ice

Bone typically takes about 6 weeks to heal, so your physician will take several rounds of x-rays to make sure that healing is taking place along the expected time course. If you do not follow your physicians plan of care, you may find yourself with a complete fracture that could require surgical intervention.

If you have any foot/ankle related issues that need care, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or visit

Category: Sports Injuries

Tags: Injuries, Stress Fractures