4 Symptoms of a Hairline Fracture

Hairline fractures or stress fractures are not easily detected or felt as compared to other types of fractures. Patients may sometimes feel tenderness at the affected area coupled with some swelling. These symptoms are further amplified during activities and will reduce with rest. Hairline fractures are actually tiny cracks in a bone resulting from overuse and are frequently observed in places where repetitive loads are encountered such as the ankle. Hairline fractures often occur during high impact sports and a few factors can influence it such as the duration of exercise, frequency of exercise as well as the intensity of it. However, patients who do not participate in sports can also experience hairline fractures due to weak bones in their body. Bone diseases or osteoporosis causes a loss in bone density and places one to be more susceptible to stress fractures. In this article, we will further explore some symptoms of a hairline fracture.

Gradual pain

Pain develops gradually in patients suffering from stress fractures. As mentioned above, the pain is only present during instances of weight bearing and will go away at rest. It is different from an ankle sprain whereby pain is present throughout. In some patients with higher pain tolerances, they may not be able to feel this pain as the endorphins produced during activities can mask it, misleading the patients and result in more serious consequences.

Localised swelling

During injuries, our body’s immune system will kick in. Chemical signals are released by the brain to widen capillaries which will result in increased blood flow to the injured area. The white blood cells will then fight against any infection present. This increase in fluid causes swelling which is visible on the outside and can be relieved through the use of ice packs or anti-inflammatory medication.

Reduced pain when at rest

Another common symptom is the immediate reduction of pain experienced when at rest. This would mean that the injury sustained is not involving any muscle groups nor is it a major fracture. Patients suffering from hairline fractures will get immediate relief when they stop whatever activities they are doing.

Constant pain after continuous trauma

When patients ignore the advices of doctors to rest and choose to continue playing, their condition can worsen and there is a high risk that the stress fracture has already evolved into a complete fracture. Pain can be felt throughout even when the patient is at rest.

It only takes about 6 to 8 weeks for a hairline fracture to heal whereas a complete fracture takes around 6 months to heal. It is up to you whether you wish to sacrifice at most 2 months of your time to heal it completely or risk being out of the sport forever.


  1. I hit my knee on a large rock 4 years ago and wobbled away. And now when I walk up stairs run or jump my knee hurts.

  2. Thanks for the explanation. Now I understand better what is happening to me.

  3. Hi. I m Dipika here. I have got hair line crack on 4.11.15. Doctor advise me to apply ice n prescribed medication. Please guide me with does n don’ts. I am doing all house hold activities. Your guidance is important for me.

  4. Would a hairline fracture on wrist cause swelling? And pain up to the elbow?

    1. Yes, there will be swelling. We need to look at both the clinical area of fracture and also the X-ray.

  5. I have a hairline fracture right below my big toe joint that I got 4-5 months ago while playing football. Initially, there was pain and swelling but I went to the doctor and the swelling reduced significantly. I have not done any physical activity for one month but started playing football after 1 month. The swelling is still there and I can feel a click eveytime I try to bend my toe. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. We will need to look at both the clinical area of fracture and also the X-ray.

  6. I fell In class an landed on my wrist and it has been hurting

  7. I feel pain at specific point between elbow and wrist only when I do exercise with weight and it lasts only aat that time but it remain if I put stress on that point but if I stop exercises for a few days it gets reduced and no pain. I don’t know what it is?

  8. I have a very slight pain in my right hand wrist, just close to the lower side of Ulna bone about 2 inches above wrist. I don’t have any swelling and the pain doesn’t show up all the time. It only happens when I turn my hand with some weight in it, like while playing with baseball bat or cricket bat in hand. This is happening for last 3 weeks or so. I tried wrist straps of crape bandage but it did not heal completely, severity seems to be slightly low. Can it be a hairline fracture.

    1. We need to look at your x-ray to determine any fracture.

      Sometimes can be ligament issue however our doctor need to know the most painful area is it at the ligament.

  9. I think I have a hairline fracture in my left arm.
    I was playing football as a goalkeeper and trying to save a penalty this happned. ….
    Pls give me some advice for the same

  10. I, unfortunately, fainted this passed weekend during an outdoor festival. When I fainted I landed hard, face first, in the middle of the street the festival was taking place on. At the time, I was preoccupied by the trauma to my face. On Tuesday, however, I began to notice a pain in my left arm when moving to quickly or when lifting heavy objects. It’s getting progressively more painful. There is only minor swelling. As of yet, I’ve had no x-rays or tests done. I’m just wondering if a hairline fracture is possibe?

  11. I was at the lake with my family and I was hit by a jet ski while on a tube. The tube attached to the back of our boat and then a drunk jet ski driver hit us. I was taken to the hospital by ambulance and find out that I did by have a broken heel or fracture. I went to the orthopedic and he says that it could just be severe bruising or a hairline fracture, how do I know which one it is? I am on crutches and have a shoe to help me walk.

  12. I fell from the front porch step & twisted my ankle however,the pain was more localized on the outer L side of L foot & partly on top. The pain w/any type shoe (b/c of weight,even flip-flops)was pretty bad. X ray showed…DUM DUM DUM…guess- a “Localized Pin Hairline Fracture”. So, keep steady on your feet & thats just my advise folks! LoL

  13. I’m so frustrated. About 4 weeks ago I punctured my foot with a wooden skewer and had pain and some bleeding. I don’t know how far it went in. Three days after that I went and saw my doctor because it was still painful and swooen. He gave me Bactrim which did nothing, I was then referred to an ortho doctor. He put me in a boot and told me to take ibuprofen until I had an M.R.I. I wasn’t able to afford $1,000 and haven’t gone. The pain got so bad this past weekend so I went to the e.r. I knew I’d only have a $100 copay and I was given a CT scan. They did blood work as well. All tests came up clean. They said I may have had a hairline fracture. I’ve been icing, taking ibuprofen and resting it with very little affect. I go to bed in pain and wake up early with a swollen and throbbing foot. I can’t afford to go back to the doctor. I’m wondering if there is any advice.
    Thank you,

  14. I fell down and i think i sprain my ankle but my whole foot is swelling for like 5 days already. Would that be hairline fracture?

  15. i have hairline fracture in my foot i have resting for two weeks and in my foot their is someting happening in foot it has plaster i cant open it because my 12 days are not over plz anybody help me

  16. I had a hip replacement in 2012, about 3 weeks ago I had a fall from a rolling chair and fell on the side of the surgery. I have had x-rays, and they found no fractures, but I am in severe pain that has gotten progressively worse. It’s a deep pain in my thigh and groin, I wonder if this could be a hair line fracture of my femur shaft. I have contacted my surgeon that did the hip replacement, since I have only seen my PCC so far. any thoughts about this.

  17. I fell about 4 days ago and injured the part of the foot below my ankle.I went to a chinese doctor. He massaged my leg and bandaged it. However,the next day,the the place below my ankle was completely swollen. When I tried to walk,that place hurt alot and I need support so that I can move around.I went for an X-ray scan and there was no fractures. It might be because when I did the X-ray scan the chinese medicine was still on my foot. When I apply pressure to the place below my ankle,it hurts alot. I was wondering if this could be a hairline fracture

  18. I got slide tackled at soccer this weekend, and my wrist hurt immediately from the way I feel for the next two days. Every time I move it in large movements it’s hurts again. It’s bruised but was swollen. Is it a hairline fracture??

  19. Last week I punched my hand to a wall,and now my middle finger and small finger still have bit swelling,and in some point am unable to turn my wrist properly….
    What should I do for fast recovery,i have badminton tournament in another 10 days…

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