What is the difference between a stress fracture and a full fracture?

When considering stress fracture vs. full fracture, remember that both are breaks in your bones that will cause pain and will need some time for the bone to heal. That said, there are some basic differences.

One is the location of the break. A stress fracture only affects the surface of the outer bone layer. It is a hairline crack or fissure in the hard outer tissue that is usually damaged by repetitive stress or trauma to the bone, such as with running long distances, practicing and playing sports, or other repetitive movements.

A full fracture goes completely through the bone so it breaks into two (or more) pieces. It usually occurs from a sudden impact: something landing on it, a bad twist of the foot, or landing from a jump are common examples. A crush injury can break the bone in several places, making surgery necessary to repair it with plates, pins or wires. A full fracture can also involve dislocation (where the bones move out of position) and ligament damage, too.

Bones take about 6 weeks to heal, so with either type of fracture, plan on rest and weight-bearing restrictions for some time. Call Atlantic Foot & Ankle Associates in Daytona Beach at (386) 274-3336 (or one of our other Florida locations) for an evaluation of any suspected break.

James W. Rust
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