Health Information

Stress Fractures

What are stress fractures?

Physical stress is important for musculoskeletal tissues to grow and develop. People become fit by adapting to graduated stresses. However, overuse injuries can be caused by repeated microtrauma that exceeds the body's ability to adapt and repair. These tend to occur at the junction of muscles, tendons and bones.

Stress fractures and overuse injuries may be caused by initial increased activity in the unfit athlete or by repetitive activity in the elite year-round athlete. They are being found more frequently in younger children as competitive sports increase their training demands. In addition, children, adolescents and young adults are now competing throughout the year.

How we can help — treatment options

If a stress fracture is suspected, orthopaedic surgeons at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia will use X-rays, bone scans or MRI to diagnose the problem.

We will then develop a program to prevent future stress fractures. First, we will evaluate the athlete's current training and competition activities, diet, hormonal and social factors. Then we will develop a program of rehabilitation exercises for each individual patient. We also work with coaches to ensure that the young athlete will receive appropriate training in an appropriate location.

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