Hairline Fracture/Stress Fracture – Everything You Need to Know

Dealing with a hairline fracture also known as a stress fracture can be tough compared to other fractures because the pain levels are much lower with this injury. When you have a spiral fracture, for example, it is so painful you know what something is wrong, but with a hairline fracture, you may not know it right away. Here is everything you need to know to deal with a hairline fracture properly.

What is a Hairline Fracture?

A hairline is a tiny fracture that is caused by overuse or repetitive stress. The injury is the most common in athletes and people who are active because it comes from the bone being under too much pressure. Any person who has osteoporosis or anyone who is running or jumps on a regular basis is at risk of suffering a hairline fracture.

A hairline fracture is almost always due to a lack of recovery v.s. the demand for training. If you run or jump every day and your body is not able to handle the stress, the bones will suffer microscopic damages that slowly add up day after day to become a hairline fracture.

These fractures commonly occur in the lower leg because they take on so much impact during athletic movements. The feet and lower legs consist of smaller bones, but all the force of running and jumping goes through these bones and the muscles that surround them.

Symptoms and Hairline Fracture Occur

You can have a hairline fracture and feel just a bit of discomfort, which is what makes them hard to catch. The discomfort slowly begins to turn into pain, and that pain gets worse and worse over time since it is a repetitive use injury. Many times the pain will decrease or completely go away during rest days.

Look out for 

  • Swelling
  • Bones sore to touch
  • Bones that hurt to tap
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising

Typical Injuries

  • Stress fracture in foot
  • Hairline fracture arm
  • Metatarsal stress fracture
  • Stress fractures in ankle
  • Stress fracture top of foot

Causes of Hairline Fracture

Hairline fractures are repetitive use injuries that come from doing too much volume and not resting enough. The injuries can also be a result of ramping up training too quickly. If you are going to do a certain amount of volume it is easier on your bones to start below that point and slowly increase the capacity.

Another cause of a hairline fracture is switching the activity that you do. If you run on a regular basis an then all sudden you start playing basketball every day you put your bones at risk of injury. The body needs time to adapt to new stresses.

Who Is At The Most Risk of This Injury? 

  • Women – Especially women during the menstrual cycle are at risk of stress fracture
  • People with foot problems
  • Weakened bones – Any bone condition that weakens bone will increase the chance of a stress fracture
  • Horrible technique – Bad technique will put the body in the wrong positions
  • Previous stress injuries – Some athletes are prone to a stress fracture
  • Change in surfaces – The body needs time to adapt to new surfaces
  • Improper equipment – Need to have the right shoes and equipment to stay healthy
  • Improper diet – A lack of nutrients can weaken the bones
  • Particular sports – Running and jumping sports increase chances of injury

How to Treat a Hairline Fracture

In the short term, the best thing you can do for a hairline fracture is to ice it day to day, but this is far from a long-term fix. The problem with ice as well is that it can reduce the pain and make you think you are doing better than you are. The same is true of painkillers. Only take for situations where you must perform. Otherwise, you may increase your chances of injury.

The best way to recover from hairline fracture is with lifestyle changes and working with a good sports medicine provider. The lifestyle changes all center around improving recovery methods.


  • Increase weekly sleep hours
  • Increase number of naps taken daily
  • Go to bed earlier


  • Work with a registered dietitian and figure out where you have gaps in your diet
  • Make sure hydration is in check
  • Increase the volume of food eaten

Self Care

Working With a Sports Medicine Provider

When dealing with a stress fracture, it is essential that you work with a professional to help you through the treatment and rehab process. You are going to have to do some strengthening work, and though some can be done on your own, you need a proper progression plan to make sure that you return to your sport healthy. The second thing a healthcare provider is going to do is help build back your confidence again, so you are not fearful of being hurt.

Type of Providers Who Can Help With a Stress Fracture

Finding The Best Healthcare Providers for a Stress Fracture

The best healthcare for sports medicine injuries is made easy using 9INE POINTHealth. 9INE POINT Health lets you search for healthcare providers based on the type you want to work with as well as the skill sets you like. For example; You can search for Chiropractors that also know how to use Graston tools and 9INE POINT Health will show you the best local options. You can then compare 9INE POINT Numbers until you find the person that is perfect for you.

KHO Health was acquired by was acquire by 9INE POINT in the summer of 2019 and is now referred to as 9INE POINT Health.


9INE POINT Health was created by 9INE POINT in '19 as a means to provide athlete-driven resources to "Protect Athletes' Minds, Body and Belly". As well as be a platform for healthcare providers and other specialists to display their knowledge.


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