Stress fractures are overuse injuries commonly seen in athletes and the sporting population. Approximately 20% of all sports injuries are due to stress fractures.
The injury can occur anywhere in the body, but the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot are common areas for stress fractures. This is due to the repetitive forces they must absorb during activities like walking, running and jumping. Runners who average more than 25 miles a week are at particular risk.
The main reason people get stress fractures is a sudden increase in physical activity. This can be due to a surge in the frequency, volume or intensity of activity. Sometimes there are coexisting problems affecting bone health, such as osteoporosis, vitamin D deficiency or an inadequate calorie intake. This may be due to a condition known as relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). Research shows that female athletes are more prone to stress fractures.
Common symptoms include:
- – Pain that occurs and intensifies during daily activities, such as walking
- – Pain during exercise which reduces when resting
- – Tenderness to touch at the site of the fracture.
Diagnosis and treatment of tendinopathy
Your OrthTeam Sports and Exercise Medicine Consultant will take a full medical history, focusing on any relevant risk factors for the injury, and complete an examination, which is usually followed by a MRI scan to confirm the diagnosis. They may also do blood tests to check your vitamin D and calcium levels, refer you for a DEXA scan to check your bone mineral density and, where relevant, conduct other tests to check for relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S).
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