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A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the bone. Most stress fractures occur in the lower leg and foot. They can also occur in the hip and other areas. Most stress fractures can heal spontaneously. However, some may lead to complete fractures, or may require surgery.
A blow to the bone does not cause a stress fracture. Rather, it is typically caused by repeated stress or overuse. Some causes are:
- Increasing the amount or intensity of an activity too quickly (most common)
- Switching to a different playing or running surface
- Wearing improper or old shoes
Stress fractures can worsen by continued physical stress. Smoking can also make stress fractures worse because it interferes with bone healing.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for a stress fracture include:
- Sex: female
Certain sports, especially involving jumping or running:
- Track, especially distance running
- Amenorrhea (women only)
- Reduced bone thickness or density
- Poor muscle strength or flexibility
- Overweight or underweight
- Poor physical condition
- Localized pain on the bone
- Pain when pressure is applied directly over the fracture and the area around it
- Pain when putting stress on the affected leg
- Swelling and warmth at injury site