Medial malleolar stress fracture in athletes: diagnosis and operative treatment

Author information

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, Turku University Hospital and University of Turku, Turku, Finland.



Stress fractures are common overuse injuries in athletes. Medial malleolar stress fractures are rare but they have an important clinical relevance because of their tendency to cause considerable disability and loss of time in sports without proper treatment. The diagnosis of medial malleolar stress fracture is often a challenge and it is therefore often delayed which may cause even further problems in the treatment. The purpose of this study was to increase the awareness of medial malleolar stress fractures as a possible cause for medial ankle pain and to stress the importance of MRI in the diagnostics as well as to evaluate the results of surgical treatment.


Between 1995 and 2008, a total of ten athletes with a medial malleolar stress fracture were operated at our centre. All operated cases during those years were included in the study. The cases were retrospectively analyzed. Return to pre-injury level of sport was evaluated and considered as an indicator of successful treatment.


Initially all standard radiographs were negative whereas in MRI the fractures were all visible. After operative treatment all medial malleolar stress fractures healed clinically in three to four months and all except one of the athletes were able to return to their pre-injury level of sports.


Early MRI is recommended if a medial malleolar stress fracture is suspected. Surgical treatment seems to result in rapid healing of the fracture and return to sports. In our opinion early surgery should be considered especially in athletes.


Read article: Lempainen et al SJS 2012 Medial Malleolar Stress Fracture (pdf)


Lasse Lempainen
ortopedian erikoislääkäri
urheiluortopedian dosentti

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