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



Since a stress fracture is microscopic, it is very difficult to find on a standard X-ray. Routine X-rays don't pick up stress fractures until healing is in progress, anywhere from two to eight weeks after the onset of pain.

So it is possible to have a normal X-ray but still have a stress fracture. The healing appears as a thickened outer rim of bone or as a callus, which is a hazy increase in the density of the bone.

A specialized X-ray image called a bone scan can diagnose a stress fracture if the standard X-ray is normal. Before the bone scan, a small amount of radioactively labeled material that concentrates in areas of active bone formation is injected into your system. A bone scan will show the site of the stress fracture within a few days from the onset of pain. Bone scans can also be used to diagnose other bone problems.

The state-of-the-art diagnosing tool for stress fractures is now the Magnetic Resonance Image, or MRI. There are no radioactive substances involved and the image is far superior to an x-ray or bone scan. It is, however, very expensive. For more information about MRI, read "Imaging Technology."

What To Do

A stress fracture isn't the end of the world, but it can cause a lot of pain and may end your training or activity for a significant period of time. Like true fractures or broken bones, a stress fracture takes four to eight weeks to heal, depending on the bone injured and the size of the fracture. In most cases, you don't have to be put in a cast or on crutches, but you will be advised to significantly decrease weight-bearing activity.

For an active woman with a stress fracture in her foot, this usually means wearing a flat shoe with firm support and walking only enough to complete the chores of daily living. To stay in shape you will have to choose non-weight-bearing activities such as bicycling or swimming. If any activity causes pain, you should decrease the amount of activity until you are pain-free.

During rehabilitation, your physician or therapist should evaluate your risk factors for sustaining a stress fracture (see "Seven Ways to Decrease your Stress-fracture Risk" on the next page) and treat any tendinitis or muscle imbalance with a combination of stretching and strengthening. You will usually be pain-free within a few days to a few weeks, but you must be patient for the full four to eight weeks until your physician says it is safe to start increasing activity again.

What is the best way to return to training?

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Table of Contents

Foreword: Billie Jean King

Comments by Barb Harris
Editor in Chief,
Shape Magazine

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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.

Copyright 2000 - Sports Doctor, Inc.