Risk Factors for Stress Fractures in Female Track-and-Field Athletes: A Retrospective Analysis


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Abstract

The incidence and nature of stress fractures and the relationship of potential risk factors to stress-fracture history were investigated retrospectively in a group of 53 female competitive track-and-field athletes. Forty-five stress fractures, diagnosed by clinical findings and bone scan, radiograph, or CT scan, were reported in 22 women. Tibial fractures were the most common (33%). There was no significant difference in bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and tibia/fibula or in percentage body fat and total lean mass when comparing the groups with and without a stress-fracture history. Athletes with a past stress fracture were significantly older at menarche and were more likely to have experienced a history of menstrual disturbance (p ≤ 0.05). Analysis of dietary behavior found that athletes with stress fractures scored significantly higher on the EAT-40 test and were more likely to engage in restrictive eating patterns and dieting. Multiple logistic regression showed that athletes with a history of oligomenorrhea were six times more likely to have sustained a stress fracture in the past, while those who were careful about their weight were eight times more likely. Prevention and treatment of stress fractures in female athletes should include a thorough assessment of menstrual characteristics and dietary patterns.

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