I'm not sure if you remember, but I emailed you a couple of weeks back about Vibram Five Fingers for my school newspaper.
I am now writing about stress fractures and I thought you may know something about them. So I would love it if you could answer a few questions for me about them, or if you're really busy or something, if you could pass them along to a colleague, that would be wonderful.
So I'll tell you the questions anyways, and I look forward to hearing back from you or a fellow orthopedic/podiatrist.
1. What exactly is stress fracture on the anatomical level?
2. What long-term effects does sustaining a stress fracture have on a person?
3. Is there a particular sport or activity that is a person most likely to sustain a stress fracture?
4. What can an athlete do to try and prevent this type of injury? What is the best thing for a player to do after incurring something like this?
Thanks, as always for the help,
Elizabeth, a stress fracture is a tiny crack in a bone when the stress load it receives is higher the stress load it can withstand. A better term that means the same thing is a "fatigue fracture". The bone fatigues with stress and cracks when the stress is too much to bear.
Stress fractures are very common and there are no long term sequellae from them. The body completely heals stress fractures, in fact they heal them better than they were originally, called "double healing". The bone around a stress fracture is probably 2 times stronger than before it broke due to the remodelling process of the bone for at least 5 to 10 years. Thus the saying "you can't break a bone in the same place twice". Quite accurate for a few years.
Stress fractures are fatigue spots in bones, and every sport can produce them due to some over use pattern of activity. Judo experts intentionally stress their fifth metacarpal of the hand by repeatedly striking a hard object to build up the thickness of that bone. This is why they can break those bricks on TV. Ballet dancers en pointe are prone for 2nd metatarsal stress fractures since the weight with proper technique goes primarily into the 2nd metatarsal. The male dancers in ballet get shin (tibial) stress fractures with their overuse landing from jumps. Rowers on a crew team are prone for rib stress fractures due to the force of the chest muscles pulling on the ribs. If the bone is weaker than the muscles, the bone breaks. Cross Country runners get tibial stress fractures due to either the impact pounding or the pull of the powerful soleus muscle at push off. And the list goes on, and on, and on.