Risk factors for stress fractures in female track-and-field athletes: a retrospective analysis

Clin J Sport Med. 1995 Oct;5(4):229-35. doi: 10.1097/00042752-199510000-00004.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone Density
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fibula / chemistry
  • Fractures, Stress / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Stress / etiology*
  • Fractures, Stress / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / chemistry
  • Menarche
  • Menstruation Disturbances / complications
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Oligomenorrhea / complications
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tibia / chemistry
  • Tibial Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Tibial Fractures / etiology*
  • Tibial Fractures / prevention & control
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Track and Field / injuries*