The term 'stress fractures' refers to tiny, often microscopic, cracks in the bone that develop through repetitive strains. Often, this is caused by overuse or by a repetitive activity, like jumping. Stress fractures also can arise from normal use of a bone that's been weakened, as in osteoporosis.
Stress fractures are most common in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot, including the:
- Tibia or shin bone
- Bones in the foot (metatarsals and sesamoids)
- Less commonly, the hip (femur), pelvis, fibula and kneecap (patella), arm (humerus) and elbow (olecranon).
Track and field athletes are particularly susceptible to stress fractures, but anyone can be effected. If you're starting a new exercise program, for example, you may be at risk if you do too much too soon. A physiotherapist can provide advice on ways to increase exercise with minimal risk of injury.