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Heel Stress Fracture Symptoms

By Lori Newell ; Updated August 14, 2017

High-impact activities that require a lot of running and jumping can place excessive stress on the heel bone. Stress fractures, or cracks in the bone, must be properly treated in order to avoid a more serious break or other complications. It is important to rest the area and seek medical attention as soon as the symptoms of a heel stress fracture occur.

Pain

Initially the pain that occurs with a heel stress fracture may be not be severe enough to discontinue the activity being performed. It may just feel achy and only occur during weight-bearing activities. Resting will usually make the pain better. However, if left untreated, that pain will gradually continue to get worse and will be felt even at rest, claims the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The pain may become severe but be very localized. Early treatment can lead to faster recovery.

Swelling and Warmth

A fall or repetitive pounding motions on the heel bone can lead to a stress fracture. Before a stress fracture can be detected on X-rays, the heel area may become swollen and feel warm to the touch, states the American Academy of Family Physicians. If the stress fracture is small, resting and immobilizing the area may be all that is needed. For larger fractures, surgery may be required to repair the bone.

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Bruising

If bruising appears around the heel area, then the stress fracture may be severe. The bruising usually only involves a small area about the size of a silver dollar. However, in most cases, by the time the skin becomes discolored, the stress fracture may have progressed to a more significant break in the heel bone versus just a small crack.

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