Fatigue fracture - what it is and how it occurs

 Bone fracture from overload

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You run the risk of developing a stress fracture if you overwork any part of your body for an extended period of time. Here, you can learn more about what it is and how the bone functions.

 

A sudden and severe shock, such as can happen in an accident, is not always the reason for a bone to break. If the bone is subjected to strains repeatedly over an extended period of time, even minor strains can result in fractures.

 

The bone eventually becomes brittle from the constant and excessive application of force, "tires" to some extent and loses stability as a result, and eventually breaks. Stress fractures are the name for this kind of bone fracture. Another term used in technical speak is stress fracture.

 

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is a bone fracture that results from constant overloading of the bone. Particularly prevalent in sports involving prolonged stress on the feet or legs, such as jogging, hiking, and dancing. Typically, the tibia, fibula, metatarsals, and/or tarsals are affected.

 

Women experience slightly more stress fractures than men. Certain medical conditions that negatively impact bone health are associated with a higher risk for this condition. These include eating disorders, especially when accompanied by a missed period, and osteoporosis, in which the bones become more porous and, consequently, more susceptible to fractures.

Historically, fatigue fractures were a problem, particularly in the military: soldiers occasionally suffered metatarsal fractures during longer marches. Until today, fatigue-related metatarsal fractures were also referred to as march fractures.

 

This is how a fatigue fracture occurs

When a bone is subjected to a great deal of stress during sports or heavy physical labor, microscopic fractures known as microtraumas form. These are typically unnoticed and initially pose no problem because the body fills them with new tissue.

 

Nevertheless, the repair will take several weeks. If the bone is subjected to excessive reloading during this period, it cannot regenerate fully. As the cracks grow larger and more appear, the bone becomes increasingly unstable and eventually breaks.

 

This usually manifests itself in that the affected part of the body hurts and may become swollen. The pain occurs mainly during exertion and subsides as soon as those affected relieve the part of the body.


“Ermüdungsbruch – Was Das Ist Und Wie Er Entsteht.” www.t-online.de, 11 Nov. 2022, www.t-online.de/-/100079000.

 

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