A stress or fatigue fracture is a type of fracture that is incomplete in the bones and is caused by repeated or unusual stress.

This type of fracture can be described as a fine crack in a bone.

It is a common sports injury, particularly for people in excellent physical condition. It mainly occurs in weight-bearing bones, such as the lower limbs: tibia, fibula, and metatarsals.

Such a fracture is due to repeated or excessive stress, which does not allow osteoblasts to repair bone damage in time due to an imbalance between bone formation and bone resorption. It occurs in a healthy bone.

For example, this injury can occur when training is too intense and started too quickly, and is practiced on a hard surface such as concrete or synthetic material. Another example is that of soldiers who have to walk long distances.

  1. Symptoms:

Most often, symptoms include pain and sensitivity, especially when weight is supported.

The pain is usually very localized at a specific point on the bone.

During a run, it is typical for the pain to be intense at the beginning, moderate in the middle, and severe at the end and after its execution.

Initially, the pain may disappear the day after the effort but eventually persists if the activity is repeated.

  • Diagnosis:

To verify the presence of a stress fracture, X-rays are not always effective at the beginning of the fracture, or even never in some cases. Bone scintigraphy, CT scans, or MRI can therefore be used for early diagnosis; or standard radio delayed by about ten days.

  1. Treatment:

If the stress fracture is located on a weight-bearing bone, healing can be delayed or stopped if weight continues to be put on that bone.

Rest is the only way to heal such a fracture. The healing time varies from 4 to 8 weeks. The activity that caused the fracture should be avoided during the first week. For the rest of the recovery, only light activity is performed.

In some cases, electromagnetic stimulation of the bones helps them reform; in other cases, a hard plastic boot (an air cast orthosis) is worn, cushioning insoles may be prescribed to dampen vibrations during recovery.

Finally, for severe stress fractures, surgery may be necessary, and rehabilitation can take six months.

  1. Prevention:

Adjacent muscles should also be strengthened.

Dietary supplements of calcium and vitamin D help with bone development.

It has been found that these supplements reduce the occurrences of stress fractures in female military recruits.