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How Do Stress Fractures Happen?

Staying active in sports is a great way to maintain your physical fitness, but it also increases your risk for specific types of injuries including stress fractures.

As a sports medicine specialist, Carlos A. Uquillas, MD, can diagnose and treat stress fractures. Dr. Uquillas also works with you to reduce your risk factors for additional fractures through lifestyle changes and other conservative strategies.

Here, he provides some insight into the different causes of stress fractures and what you can start doing now to avoid them.

An overview of stress fractures

Stress fractures are small cracks that develop in a bone, most commonly in the bones of your lower legs and feet. These areas are most susceptible to stress fractures because these are the bones that bear the majority of your body weight.

Your weight and certain repetitive movements can increase your risk for stress fractures. High-impact sports, especially basketball, gymnastics, and tennis, that require you to move in certain ways put added stress on your bones and can lead to tiny cracks developing over time.

If you’re just beginning a new sport or exercise program, the increased levels of activity might also raise your risk for this type of fracture.

Other common causes of stress fractures include:


Osteoporosis is a degenerative condition that causes the premature breakdown of your bones, making them brittle and easy to fracture.

Vitamin deficiencies

If you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and vitamin D, or if your body can’t absorb these vitamins properly, you may be more likely to develop stress fractures.

History of stress fractures

If you have previously had stress fractures, you might be at a higher risk for experiencing additional fractures with activity.

You may not initially realize you have a fracture, as it can take time to experience pain or swelling in the area near the fracture. It’s important that you schedule a diagnostic evaluation with Dr. Uquillas as soon as you notice any swelling or discomfort.

If a fracture doesn’t heal properly, it can cause additional fractures or long-term complications like arthritis in the affected bone.

How stress fractures are treated

To ensure that your stress fracture heals efficiently and fully, you may need to immobilize the area with a brace. If the fracture is in your leg or foot, Dr. Uquillas may recommend a walking boot to keep you mobile but take pressure off the fracture.

If you have a stress fracture that isn’t healing properly or if you need to stay physically active at your job or in your chosen sport, you might need surgery. Dr. Uquillas is a highly skilled surgeon and customizes your surgical plan to your needs. He focuses on repairing the fracture and ensuring your bone is stable.

Stress fracture prevention tips

Whether you need a brace or surgery to treat a stress fracture, you can expect Dr. Uquillas to work with you on strategies to reduce your risk for additional fractures as you recover. Initially, you may need to limit strenuous exercise and slowly ease your way back into physical activity under his supervision.

You might also need to make changes to your diet or add supplements to provide your body with essential nutrients, like the calcium and vitamin D you need to strengthen your bones.

The right shoes can also make a difference in your stress fracture risk. Make sure the shoes you choose are appropriate for the type of activity you’re doing and the right size.

For more tips to reduce your risk for stress fractures or to schedule a diagnostic evaluation for a fracture, call the office of Carlos A. Uquillas, MD nearest you, or book an appointment online today.

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