12 Things Every Woman Should Know About Stress Fractures

stress fractureLast week, Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center physician, Oluseun Olufade, MD, attended “Ladies Night Out” at Emory Johns Creek Hospital. Ladies Night Out is an annual health event for women and provides them with a fun night of shopping, free health screenings and casual consultations with local physicians.

At the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center table, Dr. Olufade spoke with women about stress fractures and how to prevent them. Studies show that female athletes are more prone to stress fractures than male athletes. As a fun activity, attendees entered a free drawing for new running sneakers, a key item to preventing stress fractures and other orthopedic injuries. Four lucky women walked away from the event with new shoes, but we want to provide everyone with Dr. Olufade’s helpful tips. Below are 12 things every woman should know about stress fractures:

What is a stress fracture?

1. A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the bone caused by repeated stress or force, often from overuse.

What are the symptoms of a stress fracture?

2. Pain that worsens over time; limping or tenderness. Possible swelling around painful area.

What are the risk factors for stress fractures?

3. Increased amount, distance, intensity or frequency of an activity too rapidly.
4. Female gender: lower bone density, less lean body mass in the lower limbs, low-fat diet and a history of menstrual disturbance are all significant risk factors for stress fractures.
5. Poor footwear: affects the distribution of weight.
6. Sports specific: change in training pattern (i.e., introduction of hill running), change of surface (i.e., soft clay tennis court to a hard court).
7. Weak bones: from osteoporosis, medications or eating disorders.

How do I prevent stress fractures?

8. Set incremental goals: apply stress to the bone in a controlled manner to strengthen the bone over time. Try increasing distance by <10% per week to allow bones to adapt.
9. Build muscle strength in the legs to increase shock absorption and muscle fatigue.
10. Alternate activities to help prevent injury.
11. Warm up before exercising, including stretching.
12. Use the proper equipment, including footwear. Make gradual changes to shoes and running surfaces. Well-cushioned running shoes that fit well can prevent stress fractures (depending on various factors including weight and shoe durability). Runners should replace their shoes every 300-700 miles to allow adequate mid-sole cushioning.

Think you may have a stress fracture? Make an appointment with an Emory sports medicine specialist. We’ll get you up and running again!

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About Dr. Olufade

olufade-oluseunOluseun Olufade, MD, is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Sports Medicine . He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports related injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in concussion, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration.

Dr. Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

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