Sports Medicine
A Crucial Period
Good Pain, Bad Pain
On Your Knees
Secondary Injuries
Imaging Technology
What's Sciatica?
The Female Athlete
Putting Your Feet First
Itis Schmitis
Too Much, Too Soon
Under the Influence
What's Goin' On?
Think Inches, Not Pounds
Preventing Vaginitis
That Painful Pull
Athlete's Heart
Exercise & Arthritis
Chilled to the Bone
Measuring Body Fat
Exercise and Your Breasts
Choosing a Sports Doctor
Lean on Me (Shoulder)
Exercise & Anemia
Exercise Abuse
Pelvis Sighting
Hand Aid
It's All in the Wrist
Back in Action
Altitude Adjustment
Tennis Elbow, Anyone?
Exercising in the Heat
Agony of the Feet
Restless Legs
Night Time Cramps
Birth Control Concerns
No Periods, No Babies?
Post Partum Prescription
Weight Loss Mystery
Undesirable Cooldown
To Brew Or Not To Brew
Fitness After Baby
Biking and Back Pain
Swimmer's Shoulder
A Hidden Athlete
Avoiding Osteoporosis
Drug Testing
Maximum Heart Rate
Headway Against Headaches
Torn Rotator Cuff
Fat Figures
Bloody Urine
Sag Story
Lackluster Leg
Bothersome Bulge
Gaining in Years
Taking It On the Shin
Aching Ankles
Hoop Help
Tender Toes
Meals For Muscle
Growing Pains
Hot Tips
High Altitude PMS
Personal Bests
Air Pollution
Ankle Blues
Heartbreak Heel
Yeast Relief

Too Much Too Soon


Causes and Risks

Training errors are often the cause of stress fractures. Among them are a rapid increase in distance, running too many hills, running on a hard or uneven surface and wearing worn-out shoes with inadequate cushioning and support.

Of course, not everyone in an aerobics class will get a stress fracture. Clearly; some people are more susceptible to stress fractures than others.

One important risk is low bone density; caused by a lack of weight-bearing activity; malnutrition and lack of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Any woman with a history of an eating disorder; particularly anorexia, may have lowered bone density.

A woman who has had amenorrhea (cessation of menstrual periods) may also be at higher risk for fractures because of the low levels of female hormones. Amenorrhea can be treated by replacing the hormones with medication. See "A Crucial Period" for more information about amenorrhea.

Biomechanical imbalances, such as having one leg longer than the other; may unevenly distribute the load to the bone and also increase stress fracture risk. If you suspect you have a stress fracture, consult your sports medicine physician for an evaluation.


The symptoms of a stress fracture, like the fracture itself, do not usually appear suddenly You'll feel a dull, deep, aching pain at the end of an activity - after a day of heavy walking or at the end of an aerobics class, for example.

By the next day, the pain is usually gone or much diminished. However; the aching returns the next time you're active. If you continue activity the pain will crescendo. It is generally localized in an area about the size of a half dollar and may feel tender to the touch. Typically it does not extend up or down the length of a muscle or tendon, like tendinitis.

If a physical therapist or trainer is treating you with ultrasound, the pain will get dramatically worse when the sound waves cross the stress fracture. Tendinitis can coexist with a stress fracture, so the physical examination and symptoms of these overuse injuries can overlap. In some cases there may be a swelling or prominence of the bone over the stress-fracture site.

How is a stress fracture diagnosed?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

General Health
Common Medical Problems
Dental Health
Infectious Disease
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Emotional Well-Being
Eating Disorders
Alcohol & Other Drugs
Environmental Health

The information in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not providing medical or professional advice. It should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you have or suspect you might have any health problems, you should consult a physician.

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