Sacral Stress Fracture
A sacral stress fracture is a small break in the sacrum. This is a large triangular bone at base of the spine that connects to the pelvis.
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A sacral stress fracture can be caused by repetitive stress or weakened bones.
A sacral stress fracture is more common in young athletes and older women with osteoporosis. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Having problems that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis
- Playing some sports, such as gymnastics or football
- Long distance running
- Weight bearing activities, such as weight lifting or military training
- Radiation therapy
- A history of Paget disease, hyperparathyroidism, osteopenia, or rheumatoid arthritis
The most common problem is low back pain. Other problems may be:
- Pain in hip or pelvis
- Pain in buttocks or groin
- Lower back tenderness
- Swelling at lower back
- Pain during exercise
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.
Pictures may be taken. This can be done with:
It will take several weeks for most people to heal. The goal of treatment is to help the bones heal properly to prevent long term problems. This may include:
This problem cannot always be prevented. Starting a new sport slowly may help lower the risk of injury. Healthy bones and muscles may also help. This may be done through diet and exercise.
- American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) Committee on Adolescent Health Care. Committee Opinion No.702: Female Athlete Triad. Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Jun;129(6):e160-167.
- Female athlete triad. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/female-athlete-triad.
- Low back pain fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/patient-caregiver-education/fact-sheets/low-back-pain-fact-sheet.
- Nose-Ogura S, Yoshino O, et al. Risk factors of stress fractures due to the female athlete triad: Differences in teens and twenties. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2019; 29: 1501– 1510.
- Stress fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/stress-fractures.
- Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
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