*
Stress Fractures of the Tibia and Fibula  
Nucleus factsheet image

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Definition  

A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the bone from chronic overuse. Most stress fractures occur in the lower leg and foot. They can also occur in the hip and other areas..

*

Causes  

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.

*

Risk Factors  

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:
    • Tennis
    • Track, especially distance running
    • Gymnastics
    • Dance
    • Basketball
  • Amenorrhea (women only)
  • Reduced bone thickness or density
  • Poor muscle strength or flexibility
  • Overweight or underweight
  • Poor physical condition
*

Symptoms  

Symptoms include:

  • 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
*

Diagnosis  

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and examine the injured area for localized pain and swelling.

Tests may include:

  • X-ray —to look for break in the bone
    • Stress fractures are very tiny and usually not seen on an x-ray until at least tw