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 Stress Fractures: Types, Risk Factors, Tips For Prevention

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What are stress fractures? The fractures that are caused by stress? Absolutely not. A stress fracture is primarily a small crack in the bone. Repetitive force, frequently from overuse such as jumping up and down repeatedly or running huge distances, causes them. Stress fractures can also occur due to routine use of a bone that has been weakened by osteoporosis. These fractures are also known as hairline fractures. 

Some may wonder whether stress and spine fractures are related to each other, and the types of spine fractures and stress fractures are very similar, but this is not true. Stress fractures are more common in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot. Stress fractures are most common in track and field athletes and military recruits who carry heavy packs over long distances, but they can happen to anyone. If you begin a new fitness workout routine, for example, you may get stress fractures if you do too much too soon.

A stress reaction is similar to a deep bone bruise that usually occurs from trauma or overuse. When it comes to stress injuries, there are several types. If a stress reaction is left untreated, it might lead to a stress fracture. A stress fracture occurs when a tiny crack forms due to repeated trauma, frequently induced by overuse. About half of all sports-related injuries are caused by overuse. Let us talk more about the types of stress fractures. 

Types Of Stress Fractures

There are numerous types of stress fractures; these are mentioned below: 

Metatarsal Stress Fracture

The long bones of the foot that connect the ankle to the toes are known as metatarsal bones. The front or middle of the foot is frequently inflamed or swollen. These fractures, like hip stress fractures, are common when runners increase their training intensity. Metatarsal stress fractures are more common in people who have osteoporosis or inflamed joints.

Gymnasts, ballet dancers, and hikers are more likely to develop metatarsal stress fractures because their hobbies constantly stress the foot. 

Navicular Stress Fracture

The navicular is a tarsal bone in the ankle that sits on top of the center of the foot, above the heel bone.

Possible symptoms include pain across the inner arch of the foot or a vague mid-foot ache just past the ankle joint. Because compressive stresses are concentrated on this bone when the foot strikes the ground, navicular stress fractures are common. Because of the poor blood flow in this area, minor injuries heal more slowly and are more likely to develop into stress fractures.

High-impact sports, including running, jumping, hurdling, basketball, and soccer, are more likely to cause a navicular stress fracture.

Tibia Stress Fracture

Each lower leg has two shin bones, with the tibia bone being the largest of the two—the tibia cracks when the muscles cannot absorb the load and must rely on the bone. 

The repeated hammering of the foot on hard surfaces is a common source of stress. Pain in the shin bone is common, and it gets worse with exercise and gets better with rest. Volleyball players, runners, and gymnasts are more likely to suffer from tibia stress fractures.

Rib Stress Fracture

On each side, there are 12 ribs, with the first rib being the most vulnerable to injury. Because of channels for blood vessels to go through, the first rib is weaker and thinner. Pain on the side of the neck, upper back, or rear of the shoulder is common in patients. Deep breathing, coughing, or moving the arm over the head may aggravate the pain.

Sports that entail strong shoulder motions, such as rowing, baseball, dance, and windsurfing, are more likely to cause rib stress fractures.

Hip Stress Fracture

A hip stress fracture is a severe injury to the hip joint’s ball. Aching groin pain is common among patients. When you lie down or when your foot hits the ground while running or hopping, the pain may get worse. Displaced hip stress fractures (misaligned bones) can lead to severe complications such as hip osteonecrosis, a condition in which the blood supply to the hip bone is affected.

Military professionals, long-distance runners, and mid-impact sports athletes are more likely to suffer from hip stress fractures.

Spine Stress Fractures

In children and adolescents, spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis are two of the most common causes of low back pain. Spondylolysis is a stress fracture or weakening in one vertebra, the tiny bones that make up the spinal column. With no documented injuries, this disease or weakness can affect up to 5% of children as young as age 6. Adolescents who participate in sports that place frequent stress on the lower back, such as gymnastics, football, or weightlifting, may develop a stress fracture. Moderate to severe pain in the lower back area is one of the significant stress fracture spine symptoms

The stress fracture may weaken the bone to the point where it can no longer retain its correct position in the spine, causing the vertebrae to shift or slip out of place; this condition is generally known as Spondylolisthesis. 

What Are Some Of The Risk Factors?

The following risk factors increase the chances of getting stress fractures. 

Specific Sports

Hairline fractures are more likely to occur in sportspersons involved in high-impact activities such as track and field, basketball, tennis, dance, ballet, long-distance running, and gymnastics.


Stress fractures are more common in women, especially those who do not have monthly cycles. Female athletes may be at more risk due to a condition known as the “female athlete triad.” Extreme diets and exercise can lead to eating disorders, menstruation problems, and early osteoporosis. As this progresses, a female athlete’s risk of injury rises.

Issues With The Feet

Injuries can be caused by ill-fitting footwear. High arches, stiff arches, and flat feet can all be problematic.

Weak Bones

Hairline fractures can occur even when conducting everyday activities due to conditions such as osteoporosis or drugs that alter bone density and strength.

Previous Injuries

If you’ve had one hairline fracture, you’re more likely to get another.

Lack Of Nutrients

Vitamin D deficiency or calcium deficiency can make your bones more prone to fractures. This puts people with eating disorders in danger as well. Additionally, during the winter months, when you may not be getting enough vitamin D, you may be at a higher risk of injury.

Inappropriate Techniques

Blisters, bunions, and tendonitis can all change how you run, changing which bones are touched by certain activities.

Changes In Surfaces

Changes in playing surfaces can put an unnecessary amount of stress on the bones in the feet and legs. A tennis player switching from a grass court to a hard court, for example, may sustain injuries.

Use Of Improper Footwear

Poor running shoes can increase your chances of sustaining a hairline fracture.

Top Tactics To Prevent Stress Fractures

As we read, stress fractures generally occur when more weight or stress is put on a weakened bone. You would love to know that you can prevent stress fractures by following proper training practices and strategies. We have made a list of top prevention tips. Have a look. 

Training Adjustments

Stress fractures can be caused by a significant increase in the duration or severity of your workouts. If you wish to increase the length or intensity of your training, do it over weeks or even months, depending on your goals. For example, runners who want to improve their mileage safely should adhere to the 10% rule, which states that their mileage should not increase by more than 10% from week to week.

Carefully Change Surfaces

Transitioning from running on a treadmill to running on asphalt can cause stress fractures, so be cautious. This can also aid in the prevention of shin splints.

Get Ample Amounts Of Vitamin D And Calcium

These nutrients are essential for bone health, so make sure you obtain the appropriate daily quantity for your gender and age. You can also consult your doctor to see if supplements are right for you.


You’re also at a higher risk if you don’t have an off-season and only participate in one sport or activity all year. This sort of stress fracture is more common in children whose bones are still developing

Take Regular Breaks

The risk increases if you are generally sedentary and walk all day during your vacation. 

Feel free to visit the Realign Spine website to know more about stress fractures spine. We are known as one of the most trusted chiropractic service providers in the United States. Here at Realign Spine, we provide treatment for conditions such as scoliosis, sciatica, herniated disc, neck hump, text next, flat feet, and many more at affordable prices.

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