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Stress Fractures

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is an overuse injury or a repetitive action injury. It is a common sports related injury and occurs most often in the foot and lower leg (weight bearing bones). A stress fracture occurs when a muscle is overtired or is under too much stress. The stress translates to the bone causing the bone to break/fracture.

Common Causes

  • Overuse
  • Repetitive activities
  • Starting a new activity or aggressive workout
  • Running or jumping on hard surfaces (distance runners, basketball players, dancers)

Increased risk factors that contribute to impaired bone health

  • Dietary abnormalities
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Osteoporosis

Diagnosis and Examination

  • History and physical exam by a musculoskeletal expert
  • Imaging: X-Ray, MRI, bone scan (more sensitive to earlier detection)

Common Treatment Options

  • Rest
  • Non-weight bearing for 6 to 8 weeks with possible casting
  • Surgical intervention – internal fixation
  • Stop the activity that caused the injury
  • Shoe inserts or bracing once the injury has healed
  • Gradual return to normal activities
  • Physical Therapy

Prevention

  • Gradually introduce new activities into your workout routine
  • Cross-training and alternating activities