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What can cause a stress fracture?

Repetitive stress can cause a bone to break at a microscopic level.

Stress fractures of the lower leg are a common overuse condition, especially among distance runners. They often occur in inexperienced or nonconditioned individuals. Training errors are often the cause, such as increasing mileage too quickly or running in old sneakers. Pain is often more intense after the activity. One technique for distinguishing the pain is tapping firmly above the level of tenderness. Vibration travels along the bone to the stress fracture, which may respond with pain. A bone scan can accurately assess the presence of a stress fracture.

This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.