stress fracture

A stress fracture is just that: a crack or fracture of a bone under chronic stress. They are the bane of endurance runners in particular. Stress fracture is caused by repetitive "microtrauma" to the affected bone produced by the endurance sport. It can occur just about anywhere on the leg from the femoral neck to the bones of the foot. Stress fracture is suspected any time there is localized pain in a bone of the lower extremity in an endurance athlete. Limping with pain on passive motion about the hip would suggest a femoral neck stress fracture.

Unfortunately, early stress fractures do not show up on initial xrays in 50 to 75% of cases. Bone scanning or MRI examination is often necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment varies with the site of the stress fracture, but will usually involve specialized care by a sports medicine specialist or orthopedist.

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