Fractures of the foot can be caused by an acute injury such as sudden traumatic incident e.g. falling off of a kerb or through repetitive stress. Fractures that occur through repetitive stress and develop over time are termed stress fractures, pain is experienced when walking as can swelling, but is relieved by rest unlike an acute / traumatic fracture where displacement can occur and are commonly easily identifiable, stress fractures take time before they become apparent on x-ray, up to four weeks, and therefore an MRI is a more sensitive investigation as changes within the bone can be seen very early.
Management of stress fractures includes rest and a walker boot. If left untreated the pain and immobility can continue and may worsen with pain developing elsewhere in the foot trough an altered walking pattern. Stress fractures often maintain their alignment and unlike some acute / traumatic fractures do not require surgery.