Stress Fractures in Athletes

Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5336, USA.
Topics in Magnetic Resonance Imaging 11/2006; 17(5):309-25. DOI: 10.1097/RMR.0b013e3180421c8c
Source: PubMed


A stress fracture is a partial or complete bone fracture that results from repeated application of stress lower than the stress required to fracture the bone in a single loading. Otherwise healthy athletes, especially runners, sustain stress injuries or fractures. Prevention or early intervention is the preferable treatment. However, it is difficult to predict injury because runners vary with regard to biomechanical predisposition, training methods, and other factors such as diet, muscle strength, and flexibility. Stress fractures account for 0.7% to 20% of all sports medicine clinic injuries. Track-and-field athletes have the highest incidence of stress fractures compared with other athletes. Stress fractures of the tibia, metatarsals, and fibula are the most frequently reported sites. The sites of stress fractures vary from sport to sport (eg, among track athletes, stress fractures of the navicular, tibia, and metatarsal are common; in distance runners, it is the tibia and fibula; in dancers, the metatarsals). In the military, the calcaneus and metatarsals were the most commonly cited injuries, especially in new recruits, owing to the sudden increase in running and marching without adequate preparation. However, newer studies from the military show the incidence and distribution of stress fractures to be similar to those found in sports clinics. Fractures of the upper extremities are relatively rare, although most studies have focused only on lower-extremity injuries. The ulna is the upper-extremity bone injured most frequently. Imaging plays a key role in the diagnosis and management of stress injuries. Plain radiography is useful when positive, but generally has low sensitivity. Radionuclide bone scanning is highly sensitive, but lacks specificity and the ability to directly visualize fracture lines. In this article, we focus on magnetic resonance imaging, which provides highly sensitive and specific evaluation for bone marrow edema, periosteal reaction as well as detection of subtle fracture lines.

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    • "Stress fractures are seen in bone with a normal structure and strength, which is set under repetitive peak loads. On single loading, this stress is not sufficient to create a fracture [8]. A typical example is the metatarsal stress fracture of a military recruit. "
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    ABSTRACT: Due to the increasing life expectancy, orthopaedic surgeons are more and more often confronted with fragility fractures of the pelvis (FFPs). These kinds of fractures are the result of a low-energy impact or they may even occur spontaneously in patients with severe osteoporosis. Due to some distinct differences, the established classifications for pelvic ring lesions in younger adults do not fully reflect the clinical and morphological criteria of FFPs. Most FFPs are minimally displaced and do not require surgical therapy. However, in some patients, an insidious progress of bone damage leads to increasing displacement, nonunion and persisting instability. Therefore, new concepts for surgical treatment have to be developed to address the functional needs of the elderly patients. Based on an analysis of 245 consecutive patients with FFPs, we propose a novel classification system for this condition. This classification is based on morphological criteria and it corresponds with the degree of instability. Also in the elderly, these criteria are the most important for the decision on the type of treatment as well as type and extent of surgery. The estimation of the degree of instability is based on radiological and clinical findings. The classification gives also hints for treatment strategies, which may vary between minimally invasive techniques and complex surgical reconstructions.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Injury
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    • "Long distance runners are at increased risk for pelvic, tibial (Figures 8 and 9), and fibular fractures [14]. In the military, calcaneus (Figure 10) and metatarsals are the most commonly cited injuries, especially in new recruits [15]. Billiard players are at risk for upper limb fractures (Figure 11). "
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    ABSTRACT: Radiographically occult and subtle fractures are a diagnostic challenge. They may be divided into (1) "high energy trauma fracture," (2) "fatigue fracture" from cyclical and sustained mechanical stress, and (3) "insufficiency fracture" occurring in weakened bone (e.g., in osteoporosis and postradiotherapy). Independently of the cause, the initial radiographic examination can be negative either because the findings seem normal or are too subtle. Early detection of these fractures is crucial to explain the patient's symptoms and prevent further complications. Advanced imaging tools such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and scintigraphy are highly valuable in this context. Our aim is to raise the awareness of radiologists and clinicians in these cases by presenting illustrative cases and a discussion of the relevant literature.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013
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    • "Stress fractures may happen in many different locations throughout the body (Fredericson et al., 2006), however they are relatively rare in the upper extremities (Fredericson et al., 2006). The most frequent types of lower-extremity stress fractures are tibial and metatarsal fractures. "
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    ABSTRACT: lower-limb stress fracture is one of the most common types of running injuries. There have been several studies focusing on the association between stress fractures and biomechanical factors. In the current study, the ground reaction force and loading rate are examined. There is disagreement in the literature about whether the history of stress fractures is associated with ground reaction forces (either higher or lower than control), or with loading rates. a systematic review of the literature was conducted on the relationship between the history of tibial and/or metatarsal stress fracture and the magnitude of the ground reaction force and loading rate. Fixed-effect meta-analysis techniques were applied to determine whether or not the ground reaction force and/or loading rate are different between the stress fracture and control groups. thirteen articles were identified through a systematic search of the literature. About 54% of these articles reported significantly different vertical ground reaction force and/or loading rate between the stress fracture and control groups. Other studies (~46%) did not observe any significant difference between the two groups. Meta-analysis results showed no significant differences between the ground reaction force of the lower-limb stress fracture and control groups (P>0.05). However, significant differences were observed for the average and instantaneous vertical loading rates (P<0.05). the currently available data does not support the hypothesis that there is a significant difference between the ground reaction force of subjects experiencing lower-limb stress fracture and control groups. Instead, the vertical loading rate was found to be significantly different between the two groups.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon)
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