What is a Stress Fracture?

The term Stress Fracture is used to describe a break in a bone that is caused by a repetitive force. This is different to a normal fracture where a large force is usually needed to break the bone. They usually occur in the metatarsal bones but can also be seen elsewhere in the foot such as the heel bone.

What are the symptoms of a stress fracture?

Stress fractures can present in several different ways. The most common symptoms are a period of aching in the foot followed by a sudden sharp pain that persists. This is normally accompanied by swelling and difficulty in walking. Some patients will present simply with pain and swelling rather than an obvious gradual painful onset.

How are stress fractures diagnosed?

The diagnosis is usually made by listening carefully to the patient’s symptoms. Patients will often describe a recent change in their exercise regime such as training for a marathon or starting more impact style exercise. Examination often reveals a foot that is swollen and tender at the site of fracture. Initial X-rays may not identify the fracture as they are usually undisplaced, and the earliest X-ray sign may be new bone formation which is a sign of bone healing. MRI and CT can identify this injury early in its course.

What are my options for treatment?

Treatment is almost always non-operative in the form of an orthopaedic shoe or boot. Addressing lifestyle changes such as the type of exercise being done, footwear and bone health is important. Your surgeon must always consider that the fracture was actually due to your bones being weaker than they should be. Causes of this can include vitamin D deficiency (from lack of sunlight), hormonal changes (commonly seen at the time of menopause), poor diet or eating disorders and long term medication such as steroids.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury or is experiencing pain across their lower limbs or difficulty with mobility and would like a consultant-led review, please contact us. Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of knee-related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


Grosvenor Orthopaedics have extensive experience in the treatment of foot & ankle -related injuries with excellent patient outcomes.


If you would like to learn about other foot & ankle conditions click the button below to find out more


If you would like to learn about other foot & ankle treatments click the button below to find out more

our specialist FOOT & ANKLE consultants

Foot & ankle care at Grosvenor Orthopaedics is lead by Mr Tim Sinnett. A graduate of Cambridge and Imperial College medical schools and leading academic and trauma consultant for Chelsea and Westminster NHS trust. He is further supported by the orthopaedic team here including other consultant surgeons, nurses and care staff.

Our team are well placed to manage and treat a diverse range of foot and ankle concerns utilising cutting edge diagnostic technology and treatment approaches, both surgical and conservative. Below is an overview of some of the conditions we treat but for a more thorough understanding please contact our team here


Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon, Specialist in Foot and Ankle Surgery

MBBS (AICSM), MA (Cantab), FRCS (Tr & Orth)
Tim is a Trauma and Orthopaedic Consultant at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, King Edward VIIs Hospital, and the Lister Hospital, Chelsea. His high volume Adult Foot and Ankle practice is made up of all aspects of ankle, hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot pathology. He is an avid believer in patient empowerment and autonomy, especially when decisions regarding surgery are required. Ensuring a high-quality patient journey from the first assessment to full rehabilitation is at the heart of his practice.

What some of our patients say

Mrs JS

Thank you to the whole team for getting me back on my feet again