Stress fractures

M. Henry

in Oxford Textbook of Trauma and Orthopaedics

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199550647
Published online April 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199608249 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks

Stress fractures

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  • Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Sports and Exercise Medicine


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Stress fractures are fractures occurring as the result of repetitive, submaximal loads, in the absence of a specific precipitating traumatic event.

These fractures can be subdivided into two groups on the basis of aetiology. Whereas ‘fatigue fractures’ result from the excessive repetitive (i.e. abnormal) loading of normal bone, ‘insufficiency fractures’ are fractures resulting from normal forces acting on abnormal bone.

Early diagnosis allows the initiation of effective treatment that can prevent prolonged pain and disability, as well as avoiding the progression to displacement or a non-union.

While management decisions are generally focused on activity modification, protection of weight bearing, and immobilization, there is a subset of fractures at high risk for progression to complete fracture, non-union, or delayed union. These high-risk stress fractures, including tension-side femoral neck fractures and anterior tibial cortex fractures, require aggressive treatment to prevent the sequelae of poor healing.

Chapter.  2791 words. 

Subjects: Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery ; Sports and Exercise Medicine

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