Stress fracture injury in female endurance athletes in the United Kingdom: A 12-month prospective study
Studies of stress fracture (SF) incidence are limited in number and geographical location; this study determined the incidence of SF injury in female endurance athletes based in the United Kingdom. A total of 70 athletes aged between 18 and 45 years were recruited and prospectively monitored for 12 months. Questionnaires at baseline and 12 months assessed SF, menstrual and training history, eating psychopathology, and compulsive exercise. Peak lower leg muscle strength was assessed in both legs using an isometric muscle rig. Bone mineral density (BMD) of total body, spine, hip, and radius was assessed using dual X-ray absorptiometry. Among the 61 athletes who completed the 12-month monitoring, two sustained a SF diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging, giving an incidence rate (95% confidence intervals) of 3.3 (0.8, 13.1) % of the study population sustaining a SF over 12 months. The SF cases were 800 m runners aged 19 and 22 years, training on average 14.2 h a week, eumenorrheic with no history of menstrual dysfunction. Case 1 had a higher than average energy intake and low eating psychopathology and compulsive exercise scores, while the reverse was true in case 2. BMD in both cases was similar to mean values in the non-SF group. The incidence of SF in our female endurance athlete population based in the United Kingdom was 3.3%, which is lower than previously reported. Further work is needed to confirm the current incidence of SF and evaluate the associated risk factors.