Stress Fractures in Skeletally Immature Patients

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SummaryStress fractures are a common injury in an active population. As children become increasingly involved in organized sports, the recognition of stress fractures and differentiation from infections or neoplasms requires a knowledge of their most common sites, presentation, and clinical course. We retrospectively reviewed 34 stress fractures in 32 skeletally immature patients from June 1977 to May 1993. Age, fracture location, treatment, time to union or healing, associated conditions, complications, radiographs, and clinical outcome were recorded. Fifty percent of patients were involved in sports; the most common complaint was pain with activity. The most common site was the tibia (47%) followed by the fibula (21%) and femur (12%). All had resolution of symptoms and returned to normal activity. All but two healed with either activity modification or cast immobilization. The radiographic findings included early periosteal callus formation that rapidly consolidated to new bone on serial studies. A careful history, physical examination, and radiographs can help diagnose most common stress fractures in the skeletally immature individual and can differentiate stress fractures from infection or neoplasm with appropriate conservative treatment.

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