Skip to Content
Home > Health Information > Health Library > Stress fracture
A stress fracture is a hairline crack in a bone. In some cases, the crack may be so small that it is not visible on an X-ray.
Stress fractures are usually caused by repeated stress on a bone rather than by a specific injury. They can occur in any bone that repeatedly bears weight. For instance, stress fractures in the small bones of the foot are common during intensive training for sports that involve lots of running or jumping. A stress fracture is also more likely to occur in a bone that is not accustomed to or conditioned for a particular activity, such as when a person starts a new sport.
The most common symptom of a stress fracture is persistent pain at the site of the fracture. Pain may improve temporarily during exercise but gets increasingly worse after each exercise session.
If the activity that caused the stress fracture is stopped, the bone will heal and symptoms will go away. The activity can then be resumed gradually until the bone becomes conditioned to the repeated movements.
Current as of: June 25, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
See important information from Billings Clinic on Non-discrimination and Interpreter Services.
Billings Clinic is proud to be an equal opportunity/affirmative action (EOE/AA) e-verify employer.