How do you diagnose a stress fracture?

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.
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.