Stress Fractures

1 What are Stress Fractures?

Tiny cracks in a bone are refered to as stress fractures. They are caused by repetititve application of force, usually by overuse like repeatedly jumping up and down or running for long distances.

Other conditions like osteoporosis, which weaken bones can also cause stress fractures.

These fractures mostly occur in the weight-bearing  bones of the legs and feet.

Stress fractures usually occur intrack and field  athletes. However, they can occur in anyone else.

2 Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of stress fractures include:

  • Pain that gets worse with time
  • Tenderness around the affected bone
  • Swelling around the painful area
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3 Causes

Stress fractures are caused by repetitive application of great amounts of pressure on the bones of the legs of the heart.

This force causes an imbalance between the resorption and growth of bone. These processes occur at the same time. The force increases the resorption of bone. Cracks may develop if bones are subjected to force for long periods without enough time to recover.

If this continues, these cracks may become stress fractures.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Imaging tests along with a medical history and a physical examination are required for a diagnosis of stress fractures to be made.

Imaging tests that can be used include; X-rays, bone scans and MRI.

5 Treatment

Several treatment methods are used for stress fractures.

A walking boot, brace or crutches may be needed in order to reduce the force placed on the bones.

Surgery may be required sometimes to help ensure the complete healing of the fracture.

6 Prevention

The following can help to prevent stress fractures:

  • Starting any new exercise program slowly with gradual progression.
  • Using proper footwear.
  • Adding low-impact activities to daily exercise regimen.
  • Taking a proper diet tha includes plenty of calcium and other nutrients.

7 Risks and Complications

Factors which may increase the risk of stress fractures include:

  • Certain sports like track and field, basketball, tennis or gymnastics.
  • Increased activity.
  • Women with abnormal  or absent menstraul periods.
  • People with flat feet or high, rigid arches.
  • People with conditions like osteoporosis which weaken bones.
  • Stress fractures that fail to heal properly may be accompanied by chronic pain. If the underlying cause is not treated, it may lead to additional stress fractures.                                                                                                       
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