Femoral (hip) Stress Fractures in Runners

Stress fractures commonly occur in sports where the movement demands of the activity produce repetitive loads on the body e.g. running, dancing and jumping. 

Stress fractures of the shin bones (fibula) are more common, but these fractures can occur in the hip, particularly in long distance runners. Femoral stress fractures are reported more frequently in female runners.

The symptoms in femoral stress fractures are: 

  • Local pain – often in the groin
  • Point tenderness on palpation
  • Local swelling
  • Limping
  • Pain and limited movement when moving hip and/or knee
  • Increasing pain during activity

Key messages for runners

If you are a runner and have noticed a gradual increase in hip or groin pain with running training or during a race you are advised to stop and seek medical attention. Early diagnosis and management will prevent a potentially more serious injury from occurring.

Key messages for clinicians

As the symptoms and signs of early femoral neck stress fracture are non-specific and subtle, a high index of clinical suspicion should be maintained in all athletes. Early diagnosis is essential to prevent progression to a displaced fracture.