Stress Fractures 

An Overview for Patients:

    by Matthew Harris MD, MBA

Our bones are subjected to an array of stresses everyday.  Under normal circumstances, our bones do a fantastic job withstanding those stresses and keeping our bodies moving along pain free.  Under some circumstances, our bodies are unable to keep up with those stresses and this often results in a stress fracture.  The key to understanding stress fractures lies within the ability of our bones to remain healthy under NORMAL circumstances.  

Some examples of abnormal circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • Excessive loading - lifting weights that are too heavy
  • Excessive repetition - running 20 miles daily for four straight days
  • Compromised Mechanics - working out and cross-fitting in flip flops
  • Sub-optimal Nutrition - failing to maintain minimum levels of Calcium and Vitamin D in our diets
  •  Impaired Biology - various metabolic syndromes and hormonal imbalances impair bone healing

Again, our bodies typically do a phenomenal job of defending against stress fractures on a daily basis, as long as we provide them with ample time to heal and nutritional building blocks, while avoiding situations where we simply over-stress them.   

Once a particular bone becomes compromised, it weakens and over time will go on to progress into a stress fracture if not addressed quickly and given a chance to heal.  Prompt recognition and treatment is critical in avoiding the transition of a stress fracture into an actual displaced fracture of that bone.  In most circumstances, we can avoid the need for surgery by taking the appropriate measures early in the disease course.  

To learn more about Stress Fractures, please visit the following AAOS patient information webpages here