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Stress fractures 

Stress fractures
Chapter:
Stress fractures
Author(s):

M. Henry

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199550647.003.012017
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date: 13 December 2019

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.

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