stress fractures

What are Stress Fractures?

Stress fractures are microscopic breaks in the bone caused by repeated stress. These breaks are extremely painful and can take months to heal.


Acute pain in a specific spot(s) on your shin

Acute pain is persistent but escalates when pressure is applied either through activity or simply standing/walking

Swelling in pain area(s)

Graphic showing where a stress fracture is most likely to occur on the lower leg.

Getting Tested

Testing for stress fractures is very simple – you will go for a bone scan. This is slightly different than an x-ray as this requires you receive an injection a few hours before you lay under the scanner. You will be injected with a radiopharmaceutical. This will go through your bloodstream to your bones, and a higher concentration will go to where your bones are repairing – in this case, a stress fracture. 

The scan itself will also last much longer (20-40 minutes) depending on the circumstances of your symptoms (ie, both legs or just one). In total you are looking at a half day for this test.

Once the scan is completed, the fractures will be evident and your healing process and rehabilitation can continue forward after consulting your physician.


Depending on the severity of your stress fracture(s), you may find yourself in a walking cast or crutches to help alleviate the pressure from daily activities such as walking. Sadly, there is nothing else you can do other than let them rest. Because they aren’t a full break in your bones, you won’t have them re-set nor is surgery an option. 

Stress fractures are the worst injury to get in relation to shin splints as they tend to be the most painful and require the most time to properly heal. Depending on how bad the fracture is and how many you have, you will be out for at least 6 weeks to heal properly.


Stress fractures are caused by trauma – either sudden or over time. The best way to prevent stress fractures is to be mindful of your training and don’t overdo it and push past what you are capable of. Proper rest and recovery are also essential as they will allow your bones to keep up with your activity, otherwise you will break down eventually. 

Our “Keeping Your Shins Healthy” protocols are a great way to help prevent future injury.

Start Healing

This is an informational website. This is not a replacement for proper medical care and attention by a registered physician. Please contact a sports medicine doctor or qualified physiotherapist in your area to undergo proper testing and diagnosis for your specific issues.