Lower Leg

Stress Fracture

A stress fracture of the lower leg is an overuse injury.

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone. They are caused by repetitive force brought on by running long distances or frequent jumping. Stress fractures can also occur in bone that is weakened by conditions such as osteoporosis.


  • Aching pain in your leg(s) that increases with activity, then disappears with rest
  • Tenderness and possibly swelling around your shin
  • Pain that gets worse in the evening or at night
  • Pain that begins after an increase in training or intensity


Stress fractures can be difficult to diagnose. They develop slowly over time as a repetitive trauma to the muscles and bones. They occur when muscles become fatigued or overloaded and cannot absorb the stress or shock of repeated impacts. Fatigued lower leg muscles transfer that stress to the nearby bone and the result is a small crack or fracture in the bones that might not be seen on an X-ray.


Rest is very important for the treatment of stress fractures. You should avoid repetitive or weight-bearing exercises, especially running. Rehabilitation focused on strength and flexibility may be recommended.