Xray. An xray may show a fracture. If not, and there is a high clinical suspicion, an MRI or nuclear bone scan can be helpful.
Bone scan. Bone scan can show stress fracture before it is seen on x-ray.
H+P FIRST. A good H+P to start. Then x-rays. If negative, bone scan or MRI? The latter has at least equal sensitivity to the scan, and has higher specificity. But, it costs more; might have insurance approval problems.
Exam, X-ray and MRI. An thorough examination starting with a detailed history will uncover most stress fractures. Patients complain of pain directly over the area of injury. A tibial stress fracture is tender to touch, and pain is increasingly worse with activities involving increased weight bearing (running, jumping, pivoting, and even walking). X-rays and MRI provide documentation of stress fracture degree/location.
Symptoms and Imaging. Stress fractures usually cause pain, but may also cause swelling and discoloration. The nature of stress fractures can make them very hard to identify on x-rays, but some may be apparent based on their size or phase in healing. Larger stress fractures or those that have had some to start healing are often the ones that can be seen with x-ray. The most specific test for a stress fracture is a mri.
May need mri. Many stress fractures don't show up on xray exams if there is suspicion of a possible stress fracture, an MRI would best show the injury a bone scan would be helpful but is not as specific for location as the MRI would be.
Bone scan... Bone scan is often helpful. Results may be positive for stress fracture on bone scan before x-ray turns positive.
A nuclear bone scan- -is extremely accurate & less costly.
Injury to the bone. Bone is constantly being broken down and re-built. With repetitive activity, it may break down more than it repairs itself resulting in a fracture of the bone. Rest, sometimes immobilization, and rarely surgery are treatment options.
STRESS FX. This results from repetitive, excessive load on a bone, resulting in micro fractures, a stress reaction to the bone, and finally, a stress fx.
A fracture w/o injur. A stress fracture is typically a fracture due to repetitive activity and stress but not due to an injury these injuries are often secondary to running, marching or other repetitive activities many cannot be diagnosed on x-ray exam but only with maris or bone scans.
Load beyond capacity. If weight bearing bones are loaded beyond what their capacity is to handle the force, the bone will break down and become injured and cause stress fracture.
Exam and imaging. Stress fractures may be hard to see on standard x-rays and additional studies such as bone scan or MRI may be helpful. A careful history and exam is also very important as you correctly implied it can be confsuing so seek out so called experts such as a hand surgeon or orthopedic surgeon who specializes in that anatomical region.
Exam and imaging. A stress fracture is a fracture but stress fractures may be hard to see on standard x-rays and additional studies such as bone scan or MRI may be helpful. A careful history and exam is also very important as you correctly implied it can be confsuing so seek out so called experts such as a hand surgeon or orthopedic surgeon who specializes in that anatomical region.
Stress fracture. Agree with dr wint. Also, overuse to the bone increases the load or stress and can create these "stress" fractures.
Fracture of vertebra. The pars stress fracture (spondylolysis) usually occurs in the lower back (lumbar spine) and results from repetitive hyperextension (bending backwards) and rotation activities. This fracture is often considered an "overuse injury.".
Stress fx of back. A pars intra-articularis fracture (spondylolysis) involves most commonly the lower back (lumbar region). It can be present in approximately 20% of individuals as congenital condition (from birth). It may also happen as an overuse or traumtic injury. The mechanism of injury is hyper-extension of the back as occurs in gymnastic, offensive lineman, ice-skaters. Treatment is conservative.
Stop Stressing. Healing stress fractures is accomplished, for the most part, by simply reducing weight bearing (i.e. stress) to the involved bone. The remedy may involve complete off weight as with crutches, to simply wearing regular shoes but drastically reducing time on the foot. Typically a weight bearing cam walker boot works just fine. The trick is to stay off foot long enough for the fracture to heal.
Overuse. Stress fractures are the result of repetitive micro trauma to a bone from overuse. This is typically seen in individuals who start on a very vigorous exercise program that their body is not in condition to handle (e.g. New military personnel in boot camp).