The Chemistry of Stress Fractures

Introduction

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A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone caused by fatigued muscles that cannot absorb added shock which results in a overload of stress on the bone. Stress fractures are often triggered by the intensity of a certain activity very rapidly, unfamiliar surfaces such as, running on sand to running on cement, improper equipment like worn out shoes, and increase in physical stress. Stress fractures mainly occur in weight bearing bones such as the foot and lower leg.

I chose to study stress fractures because I myself have had a stress fracture in my foot. You can get a stress fracture due to overuse or the improper walking shoe. I got a stress fracture due to overuse. I've had a stress fracture since my 8th grade year but just recently I got another one in my navicular bone. I wear a walking boot mostly year round to keep stress off my foot. I also wear insoles in every shoe I wear. During practices and games I use ankle tape and arch tape to support my foot.

My life is affected by stress fractures because it is something I have to deal with as long as I play sports. A stress fracture is not severe enough to have to get surgery right away. Your foot is constantly sore but can be treated by icing or ice bathing. Stress fractures do limit you to certain workouts but it does not stop you from doing what you love.


Composition of ...

  • Bone (collagen fibers)

  • Calcium Phosphate Ca(PO4)2 & Calcium Carbonate CaCO3

  • Ossification

  • Water H2O

  • Matrix


Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

A mature bone is composed of protein and minerals. 60% of the bone weight is mineral and the rest is water and matrix. Majority of the bone consist of collagen fibers. Collagen fibers are the most abundant protein in the body. Collagen is strong and makes bones, tendons, cartilage and skin strong as well. Bone tissue has a honeycomb like matrix that helps give the bone rigidity. Bone tissue is made of bones cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Bone cells are involved with the mineralization of the bone.

The bone is also made up calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate. These minerals strengthen and harden framework. The combination between collagen fibers, calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate allows the bone to be flexible and strong. Calcium allows the bone to grow bigger over time or as you get older in age. Bones start to grow together as they grow. When a baby is born, they are born with 300 bones but by adulthood there are only 206 bones in the body. In the bigger bones there is a rather flexible core made up of tissues called the marrow. Marrow produces red and white cells in our body.



Chemistry's Role

The formation of the bone is called ossification. In the early stages there are two processes called intramembranous ossification and endochondral ossification. Intramembranous Ossification involves the creation of the bone from connective tissue. Endochondral ossification comes from cartilage. Cartilage is a resilient and smooth elastic like tissue padding that covers the bone at joints to protect it. Bones help store calcium for the body and helps regulate the acid base balance. The bone is the structure of a human. The bone can be fractured by repetitive trauma to the bone over a long period of time or when the bone is weak. Bones are natural healers. They produce new cells and blood vessels that allow the bone to rebuild the broken or fractured part making the bone as good as new. All the compounds of the bone are not man made although a stress fracture can be repaired by internal fixation. Screws, pins, and plates are often used to hold small bones of the foot and ankle together for the proper healing process.

There are five phases to the recovery of a stress fracture. The first is called the injury period, which lasts about 4-6 weeks, it starts when the patient is diagnosed not when they start to feel pain. During this time the patient should be in a boot cast or using crutches to keep weight off the bone, go to therapy or get massages, and do not get frustrated or take anger out on your peers and family. Phase two is called the recovery it lasts anywhere from 3-4 weeks. During this time try to understand what caused the stress fracture and try to correct mistakes that led up to the injury. Phase three is called the build phase, you want to start raising the intensity to strengthen the bone(s). Phase four is called normal prep for the race where you start to meet your normal expectations. The last phase, phase five, is called race. This is when you are fully recovered and ready to get back to normal routines.



Background Research

A stress fracture is a small crack in a bone caused by fatigued muscles that cannot absorb added shock which results in a overload of stress on the bone. Stress fractures are often triggered by the intensity of a certain activity very rapidly, unfamiliar surfaces such as, running on sand to running on cement, improper equipment like worn out shoes, and increase in physical stress. Stress fractures mainly occur in weight bearing bones such as the foot and lower leg. Having a stress fracture while participating in activities often result in pain. Due to the pain this may result in limping and soreness.  The pain will normally go away with lots of rest. You can reduce pain by walking in a boot, using a brace, or walking on crutches to release stress from the fractured bone. They are normally found by the X-ray, MRI, or a CT scan. After a few months of rest the fracture normally heals. Physical therapist, Primary Care Provider, Sports Medicine, or an Orthopedic Surgeon can help treat injuries such as a stress fracture.


Resources

http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00112

  • What is a stress fracture?

  • What causes a stress fracture?

  • Where is a stress fracture occur?

  • Symtomes

  • Diagnosis

https://www.gstatic.com/healthricherkp/pdf/stress_fracture.pdf

  • People experiences

  • Treatments

https://depts.washington.edu/bonebio/ASBMRed/matrix.htmlSpecialist

  • Bone matrix

    • Collagen fibers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bone

  • Bone tissue

  • Bone cells

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10056/

  • Bone formation

    • Ossification

https://www.hccfl.edu/media/44292/09_nutrients_involved_in_bone_health.pdf

  • Calcium phosphate

  • Calcium carbonate

http://www.active.com/running/articles/5-phases-of-stress-fracture-recovery

  • Phases to recovery


About the Author
Courtney Bad Bear is a junior at Billings Senior High. She has been a 3 year varsity basketball and volleyball athlete. She was on the AA state volleyball championship team her freshman year and her junior year finished her basketball season taking third place at state. She plays AAU basketball for the Northwest Blazers and travels to big NCAA showcases in the spring and summer. Courtney also is apart of the Pure Performance Advisory Team. She has two little brothers, one little sister, and one older sister. She has had a stress fracture, in both her first metatarsal and navicular bone, since her 8th grade year. Courtney plans on going to college to play basketball at the next level.







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