Conditions & Treatments
Stress Fractures - Leg & Foot
Stress fractures are tiny hairline breaks in the bone. They tend to develop in the legs or feet of dancers, athletes, or military personnel who exercise to extremes when their muscles are fatigued or when their bodies are not yet conditioned to the activity level. Rest and physical therapy can help most stress fractures heal. Surgery is used in select cases.
Stress fractures also tend to occur in certain bones in the feet. Stress fractures commonly occur in the heel (calcaneus), top of the midfoot (navicular bone), and second and third metatarsals. The metatarsals are long bones in the forefoot.
People that begin a strenuous exercise routine before they are conditioned or exercise to extremes are at risk for stress fracture. Using improper form during exercise or sports or inadequate sports equipment and shoes can cause stress fractures. Dancers, military members in initial training, and athletes that participate in high impact sports are at risk for stress fractures because of jumping, running, and marching.
Women have a higher risk because of the effects of hormones on muscles and ligaments. Tall people, those with leg length discrepancies, and cigarette smokers also have a higher risk. Some people have an inherited predisposition for stress fractures.
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The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.