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Hairline fracture : Everything you need to know

Hello! My name is Dr. Salam, and a full time practicing orthopaedic surgeon at the One Care Medical Center, which is a 100 bedded international Orthopaedic Hospital in Coimbatore. In this roundup article, we are going to discuss everything under the sun about Hairline Fractures.  A hairline fracture also commonly referred to as a stress fracture is usually caused by tiny breaks in the bone from a repetitive activity such as running or some other sports based activity

Hairline fractures are a type of fracture that typically results from overuse as compared to a sudden fracture from a major impact. Either way, hairline fractures can be just as painful as a major fracture. Hairline fractures can heal with sufficient rest though. Rest again is probably the most important strategy in the treatment of hairline fractures

Quick facts on hairline fractures

Typically a hairline fracture results from overuse or repetitive activity

The core symptom is probably dull pain that increases in intensity over a period of time

Even light pressure can actually trigger significant pain

What exactly causes a hairline fracture?

Bones, in general, are pretty rigid in terms of their structural integrity. However, bones can slightly bend to absorb impact. But, what happens when strain is continuously placed over the bone?. Microscopic cracks, or hairline fractures result. A good example would be long-distance running, wherein the bones in the lower leg, foot and ankle are susceptible to injury.

People who engage in high impact sports are usually at risk of developing hairline fractures. These include

Those people engaged in

1. Basketball 2. Tennis 3. Football and 4. Soccer

Hairline fracture symptoms:-

The typical symptoms of a hairline fracture differ as compared to a simple fracture. The pain from a hairline fracture will usually only intensify when the person in question engages in physical activity that puts severe stress on the bone/affected area

Other notable symptoms usually include swelling, tenderness and bruising.

Hairline fracture diagnoses

Hairline fracture diagnoses involve a full-fledged physical exam combined with imaging utilizing either an MRI, or an X-Ray. Hairline fractures usually require prompt medical attention. If left untreated, a more serious break can ultimately result


Most hairline fractures will spontaneously heal if the patient refrains from adding undue strain on the affected area. Keeping the affected area elevated and applying ice is particularly helpful in the first 24hours. Weight-bearing activities can be slowly introduced as the pain subsides

A full recovery though will take typically 8 weeks post which full mobility if often restored. Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend a protective footwear, splint or crutches during the healing phase to minimize pain on the affected leg.

I hope you enjoyed reading this short article on hairline fractures. Keep watching this space for more interesting reads and do share this article with all your loved ones.