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Stress Fractures

By Editorial Team (2)
January 31, 2022

Stress Fractures are tiny cracks that happen in a bone. They can be caused by repetitive force. This often occurs in people that are athletes such as long-distance runners or jumpers. To know what Stress Fractures are, it’s important to know that they can occur under normal circumstances in bone that has been weakened by a bone disorder like Osteoporosis.

Stress Fractures are most likely to occur in the bones that bear weight in the foot and lower leg. Anyone can develop them, but athletes who participate in track and field events are the most like to experience them. To reduce your risk of developing a Stress Fracture, start any new exercise program slowly.

Stress Fractures of the bone appear to be more typical in women, particularly in women who don’t have standard menstrual cycles. A decrease in estrogen can cause Osteoporosis or the weakening of the bones. Young people may be at a more serious hazard since their bones aren’t completely developed.

Any anatomical variations from the norm, for example, fallen arches – can disseminate stress unequally through the feet and legs, making the danger of Stress Fractures more possible.

Stress Fractures of the bone have a tendency to repeat themselves. Around 60% of individuals who have a stress fracture have additionally had one before.

What are Stress Fractures Reasons?

Stress Fractures of the bone can occur when force is repetitively applied to a bone and it becomes more than the bone can bear. The force creates an imbalance between the growth of new bone cells and the rate at which resorption takes place. Both of these processes occurs continually, but continual force causes the bone cells to be turned over faster than they can be added. More new bone cells are added when the body is at rest.

If the bones are put under an amount of force they are not accustomed to, and not given sufficient time to recover, bone cells will be reabsorbed faster than they are replaced. When this happens, “bone fatigue” occurs. Repetitive and continued force to these fatigued bones leads to tiny cracks which can progress to Stress Fractures.

A wide range of games and exercises increase the danger of Stress Fractures. Exercises that require running and bouncing may cause fractures in the legs or feet. The greater part of all grown-up and adolescent stress fractures happen in the lower leg bones. In adults, 25% of the fractures are in the metatarsal bones of the feet (the bones of the instep).

What is Stress Fractures Prevalence?

Stress Fractures of the bone influence individuals of any age who take an interest in sports, heavy workouts, and repetitive exercises, such as running. Some of the studies conducted by doctors and researchers have demonstrated that females appear to encounter more stress fractures than their male counterparts. Numerous orthopedic specialists refer this to a condition known as “the female athlete triad”: dietary issues (bulimia or anorexia), amenorrhea (occasional menstrual cycle), and Osteoporosis. As a female’s bone mass declines, her odds of getting a Stress Fracture of the bone increases in possibility.

What are Stress Fractures Risk Factors?

Certain factors may put you at increased risk of developing Stress Fractures of the bone. These include:

  • Certain sports activities: Stress Fractures occur more frequently in those who take part in high-impact activities.
  • Unusual increased activity: Stress Fractures often happen in individuals who suddenly change their sedentary lifestyle to one that includes a regimen of intense active training.
  • Sex: Women who have experienced menopause or are not menstruating on a regular basis are at increased risk for Stress Fractures.
  • Foot problems: People who have rigid, high arches in their feet or flat feet are at increased risk of developing Stress Fractures.
  • Weakened bones: Conditions like Osteoporosis that weaken the bones, making it easier for them to fracture increases the risk of Stress Fractures.

What are Stress Fractures Complications

Some Stress Fractures of the bone don’t heal in the proper alignment, leading to chronic pain. If the underlying source of the fracture is not addressed, such as Osteoporosis, you might be at increased risk for Stress Fractures in the future.

The most widely recognized complication that happens with Stress Fractures is non-union of the bones. Different problems incorporate mal-union (recuperated bone yet in an abnormal position), and repetitive fractures. Repetitive fractures ordinarily happen if the basic issue is Osteoporosis. There are drugs that might have the capacity to be suggested by your doctor if the Osteoporosis is extreme.

Stress Fractures – Symptoms

When Stress Fractures first occur, the pain may be hardly noticeable, but the pain of these injuries tends to get worse over time. Typically, the pain starts on one specific site and is relieved by rest. There may be swelling associated with the pain of the fracture.

Stress Fractures can change generally. To determine what causes Stress Fractures you need to monitor its symptoms first. One of the most widely recognized symptoms of Stress Fractures is a pain. The pain may grow step by step and is regularly is mitigated with rest. Pain generally turns out to be more extraordinary with physical movement and can be related to swelling. Swelling and sensitivity might be felt in the territory of the pain. Discoloration and bruising can occur rarely.

It’s vital to know what causes Stress Fractures.

You should look for these Stress Fracture symptoms:

  • Profound throbbing and pain inside an appendage or joint
  • Dull pain that happens with any movement or action (in some cases halfway through the action), and at that point vanishes with rest
  • Pain that doesn’t get well in spite of rest or RICE treatment measures
  • Extreme weakness or loss of control in the influenced region
  • Throbbing pain that continuously deteriorates and begins happening not only during movement
  • Pain that increases at night or during the evening
  • Pain that begins about seven days after heavy training

Diagnostic Procedures

Notify your physician if pain persists, even at rest, or becomes severe.

Specialists normally analyze Stress Fracture with a three-stage process which includes:

  • Medical History: The specialist will start by talking to the patient, asking when the pain or potential weakness in the influenced region initially started and where it happened, what the patient’s current training regiment is comprised of, and what different stress fracture symptoms may have happened and when. The specialist may likewise ask about dietary patterns, any past damage history, and what medications the patient is taking or has taken before. Young female patients will also be asked for some information about their menstrual cycle, including whether their menstruation has halted or have been unpredictable, as this might be a pointer for early beginnings of Osteoporosis and to determine what causes Stress Fractures.
  • Physical examination: The specialist may inspect or touch the influenced area to test for pain, sensitivity, and swelling, also for as any related risk factors for Stress Fracture symptoms, for example, frail muscles and additionally bone misalignments. If a Stress Fracture in the lower points of the body is suspected, the specialist may request that the patient stand, step, or jump all over to gauge pain as well as weakness levels during activity and is commonly what causes Stress Fractures. Stress Fractures in the arms, hips, or chest may require different sorts of activities for exact findings.
  • Analytic imaging test: Stress Fractures frequently don’t appear on X-rays right away. Therefore, different sorts of analytic testing, for example, magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, computerized tomography (CT) scans, ultrasound, or Technetium-99 bone imaging tests are used to determine what causes a Stress Fractures. X-rays can be utilized to distinguish more complex Stress Fractures that have not completely healed or mended, and additionally, fractures that have advanced to nonunion (hairline) or dislodged fractures.

If your doctor suspects Stress Fractures symptoms, the condition may sometimes be diagnosed based on your medical history and the doctor’s findings when he completes the physical examination. In other cases, further studies for Stress Fracture symptoms are recommended such as:

  • X-rays: In some cases, Stress Fractures aren’t visible on plain X-ray films taken shortly after signs and symptoms first began to appear. In many cases, it can take many weeks and even longer for a stress fracture to be evident on an X-ray.
  • Bone scan: For this imaging test, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the body through an IV (intravenous) line. This substance gathers in areas where the bones are healing and shows up as a bright spot. Many different types of bone disorders look similar on bone scans, so this study is not specific for diagnosing Stress Fractures.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This study uses a powerful magnetic field and radio frequency waves in producing detailed images of the body structures. It can usually show what causes Stress Fractures within one week of injury. This test is better at being able to distinguish between injuries of the soft tissues and Stress Fractures.

Stress Fractures – Treatment

Since Stress Fractures frequently happen because of abuse, the principal treatment incorporates stopping the movement that started the fractures. Rest is primarily required for treatment and it’s important to learn how to prevent Stress Fractures. Time away from the movement or activity might be required for six weeks to two months. Typically, exercises can still proceed, however, a low-affecting type of activity, for example, swimming, elliptical trainer, or exercise bicycle is prescribed.

Most anxiety breaks will mend with the conservative Stress Fractures treatments laid out above, however, there are occasions when surgery is required. The most widely recognized circumstance that requires surgery is the point at which the bone neglects to mend, which is known as a nonunion. Surgery would generally incorporate inserting screws to secure the bone. Now and then, this surgery likewise incorporates putting the fresh bone into the territory that takes time to heal. This procedure is called bone grafting and is one of the known options on how to prevent Stress Fractures.

When you have a Stress Fracture, it’s important to decrease the amount of weight the fractured bone is required to bear. To do this, you might need to use crutches, or wear a brace or a walking boot. It’s unusual, but surgery is sometimes needed in some types of Stress Fractures, to make sure complete healing occurs. This is most often needed in areas of the body that have poor circulation.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Apart from the RICE approach and calming prescriptions, your specialist may prescribe as one of the options on how to prevent Stress Fractures that you use braces to keep weight off the fracture until the point when the pain dies down. Different recommendations for nonsurgical Stress Fracture treatment may include:

  • Altered exercises: It regularly takes 6-8 weeks for a Stress Fracture to heal. Change the exercises that place less weight on your foot and leg. Swimming and cycling are great options for exercises.
  • Casts: Stress Fractures in the fifth metatarsal bone (on the external side of the foot) or in the navicular bones take more time to mend. Your specialist may apply a cast to the location of your fracture to keep your bones in a settled position and to remove the weight and pressure.

Surgical Stress Fracture Treatment

Some Stress Fractures need surgery to mend appropriately. Much of the time, this Stress Fracture treatment includes supporting the bones by embedding a sort of latch. This is known as internal fixation. Pins, screws, as well as plates, are regularly used to hold the little bones of the foot and lower leg together during the mending procedure.


There are some easy steps you can take on how to prevent Stress Fractures:

  • Make change slowly: If you start a new fitness or exercise program, start slowly and increase your intensity gradually to reduce the risk of Stress Fractures.
  • Wear good footwear: Make sure to wear shoes that fit well and are designed for your activity. If you have flat feet or high arches, ask your doctor about special supports or inserts for your shoes on how to prevent Stress Fractures.
  • Cross-train: Adding some low-impact activities to your high-intensity exercise regimen can help you avoid the repetitive stress that makes Stress Fractures more likely to occur in particular bones or areas of your body.
  • Eat healthy foods: For strong bones, including essential vitamins and minerals in your diet; make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D and maintain a healthy weight how to prevent Stress Fractures.

Useful Advice

Stress Fractures may take several months to heal, so be sure to give yourself time to rest. While you’re healing:

  • Rest: Follow your physician’s recommendations. Don’t bear weight with a Stress Fracture until your doctor tells you it is safe to do so.
  • Ice: Your doctor may suggest applications of ice to relieve the swelling and pain of a Stress Fracture. Never apply ice or an ice pack directly to the skin; wrap it in a soft towel and apply to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes, four times daily or as recommended by your physician.
  • Resume activities slowly: When your physician tells you it is safe to do so, resume your normal activities gradually following a Stress Fracture. Start with activities that don’t require weight bearing, like swimming or easy pedaling on a stationary bike. Highly stressful activities like jogging should be resumed with great care and your doctor’s or therapist’s supervision.

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