Fibula Stress Fracture

The fibula is the calf bone, connected at the top and bottom to the much larger tibia. Fracturing the fibula is not as widespread an injury as tibia fractures because the bone is smaller and is therefore not pressurised in the same way, i.e. weight bearing during many activities such as running and jumping. Yet stress fractures can occur, causing a hairline break in the bone.


Sharp or aching pain will arise at a location on the fibula. This is likely to be increased with physical activity, particularly those involving a degree of weight bearing on the leg; however this may not always be immediately noticeable. The most painful point on the affected fibula might feel tender to the touch.


Usually the cause of a fibula stress fracture is an excessive twisting or pulling force on the bone. This can occur when the associated leg muscles are not functioning at full capacity and so they place intense pressure on the fibula during movement. Such injuries may be caused due to a single incident or stress over time. Overuse factors can contribute, such as a failure to sufficiently stretch or strengthen important muscles, or exercising when the muscles become fatigued. This leads to great pressure being placed on the bone. Worn or inappropriate footwear can also increase the risks, as can relying on irregular or sloped surfaces for training. A biomechanical foot error called pronation – the foot rolling inwards – can put excessive stress on the muscles.


You must rest from any strenuous activities until you are pain free and any other symptoms have diminished. See a doctor for a specific, accurate time scale and to rule out any complications or associated injuries. They may prescribe anti-inflammatory pain medication to help relieve the symptoms. Within the first few days it can be beneficial to keep the leg elevated and to ice the area frequently. The doctor might also recommend wearing a leg support or heat retainer to assist blood flow into the injured area and thus aid the recovery process. Any other factor must also be treated, such as correcting pronation with shoe orthotics.


As important as resting is, maintaining movement in the legs is also essential. When the doctor approves and the pain is not as severe, you should commence suitable exercises to avoid inflexibility and hardening in the leg muscles. These should not cause you pain but rather aid gradual healing. When the time is right, a physical therapist can assist with building up stretches and other training. This process aims to recuperate muscle strength and ensure a successful return to activity. Most fibula stress fractures treated in this way heal fully within 2 to 3 months.

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