A stress fracture can occur in any of the 26 bones in your foot. It can occur without trauma, like most fractures, and can be associated with bone loss from osteoporosis or some medications. Often, it develops in response to chronic overuse injuries, where a patient will start a new activity, like running, with improper shoes and cause undue stress to the affected bone.
A stress fracture presents as localized pain and swelling over a bony area of the foot, and often is localized to a very small area. Sometimes there is associated swelling. X rays can show a stress fracture, but sometimes in the early stages and in some bones, they are not visible on plain x rays. Advanced imaging, such as bone scans, MRI or CT, may be necessary to diagnose these conditions.
These types of fractures usually respond well to immobilization for 4-12 weeks, depending on several factors. Surgery is not usually warranted, but in some instances bone stimulators may be necessary to promote healing.
If you think you may have a stress fracture, immediate treatment is imperative to ensure that the stress fracture does not convert to a complete fracture, where surgery may be warranted.