what does a stress fracture feel like

What Does A Stress Fracture Feel Like?

What Does A Stress Fracture Feel Like?

Are you feeling some pain on certain parts of your legs when you run? You might think that it’s not a big deal, but little do you know that it could be a stress fracture forming in the lower extremity of your body.

That being said, how can you be sure that it’s a stress fracture and not some other sports injury? In this article, we’ll tell you what does a stress fracture feel like, as well as ways to treat it for a speedy recovery. Pretty soon, you’ll be back running in no time. Without further ado, let’s get started!


What is a stress fracture?

As the term implies, a stress fracture is a type of injury in which little cracks in the bone begin to form in specific areas of the body. While it’s often caused by repeated, sudden use in sports activities, this particular injury can also occur in weakened bones of people with osteoporosis.

Where does it usually occur?

Depending on what kind of activity (or activities) you do, stress fractures can happen just about anywhere on the body. For instance, athletes such as swimmers or baseball players are more susceptible to bone injuries in the forearms, since they tend to overuse those body parts more so than others.

On the other hand, people who participate in running and jumping events are more likely to develop stress fractures on their lower legs and feet. This is due to the fact that they rely heavily on those areas for their respective sports, which over time can lead to a breakdown of the bone structures.

How do you know if you have one?

It’s common to misdiagnose stress fractures as other sports injuries such as shin splints or even as signs of soreness and tenderness after a strenuous workout (which often goes away as you recover). However, stress fractures have a particular feel to them, which we outline below:

  • Aching, burning pain in a localized area of the bone.
  • Hurts when you press on the affected area.
  • ​Pain gets worse even when walking or doing other low-impact activities.
  • Muscles around the fractured area will feel extra tight, in order to compensate for the injured bone.

Generally speaking, if you start out with a small bit of pain that progressively worsens over time, then it’s highly likely that it’s a stress fracture.

For a video on stress fracture symptoms (especially from those of the metatarsal), check it out here:

How do you treat a stress fracture?

The first thing to do when it comes to treating a stress fracture is by getting a diagnosis of it. Talk to your doctor about getting one of these medical tests:

  • X-ray. While it’s not the ideal test for those with early stages of stress fractures, others with more long-term injuries will benefit from it.
  • Bone scan. As the name implies, this test looks to see the affected areas of the bone. Before scanning the injury, you’ll have some radioactive substance injected into your body in order for the affected part to show up on the test.

However, while it does target the bone, it doesn’t necessarily show whether it’s a stress fracture or another different type of injury.

  • MRI. Short for “magnetic resonance imaging,” this particular test uses radio waves and magnetic fields to give you solid, detailed images of the affected area. This test is good for diagnosing stress fractures early on, as well as later down the line.

Now that you’ve diagnosed your stress fracture, how do you go about treating it? Here are some ways:

  • Wear a walking boot to relieve pressure on the injured leg or foot. You can also wear a brace or use crutches for support.
  • Get a lot of rest to speed up recovery. Continue to stay healthy by doing other exercises that don’t put too much pressure on the affected area.
  • Find some exercises that will help you build or maintain bone strength. Activities such as weight-lifting and aerobics are good ways to increase bone density for stronger bones.
  • Consider re-examining and modifying your training regime, especially when you can return to your desired activity. Make sure you lessen the length and intensity of the workout until you completely recover from the stress fracture.
  • Under extreme circumstances, you might need to have surgery in order to completely heal the injured area. Consult with your doctor on the steps to take to do so.

For more information on how to treat stress fractures, check out this video here:

How long does it take to heal?

On average, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks for a stress fracture to fully heal. However, it depends on how injured the area is so in some cases, it might take shorter or longer to recover. In the meantime, avoid doing strenuous activities and rest as much as possible.

For a video on how long it takes to heal a stress fracture, take a look at this video: 


Overall, a stress fracture might not only feel like a painful, aching sensation in your body, but it also might feel like a huge limitation to your sports career. However, by taking these measures below, you’ll recover in no time:

  • Recognize and accept that you have a stress fracture.
  • Get a diagnosis to confirm that it is a stress fracture.
  • Rest up and don’t perform activities that will worsen the injured area.

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