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Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine weigh in on bone stress injury among athletes

Jason Martinez

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HOUSTON, TX — A study by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine investigated bone stress injury among Division II and Division III athletes. The hypothesis of the study is that these athletes experience more stress injury compared to Division I athletes. The study was published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

Bone stress injury is a type of injury that makes the bones unable to tolerate repeated mechanical loads. This results in structural fatigue or local bone pain. When a bone stress injury is not immediately treated, it can lead to more complex and serious injuries, such as stress fractures that need longer periods of treatment.

It is common for collegiate athletes to experience bone stress injuries. This type of injuries impair athletes’ ability to play their sport, and it should be treated accordingly and in a timely manner to ensure safe participation in the game. If it’s overlooked, athletes can be at risk of being out of commission for a long period of time.

The researchers at Baylor College of Medicine sought to gain a better understanding of this type of injury by pulling data from the NCAA Injury Surveillance program. From the study, they found that Division II and Division III athletes have a higher rate of bone stress injury compared to Division I athletes.

This difference, according to Dr. Theodore Shybut, the lead author of the study as well as an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor, could be due to differences in injury surveillance, training surfaces, athletic department resources, and different body composition. The authors of the study advised that trainers and people within the sports medicine community be more aware of this.

One of the sports that demonstrated a high risk of getting bone stress injuries among Division II and III athletes in lacrosse. Although more research is needed to understand the cause of this, the researchers speculated that it is due to training surfaces.

Based on their findings from the study, the authors suggested that further research is necessary to understand the specific factors of these injury risks and to come up with prevention strategies that are based on evidence.

“If you’re in sports medicine, part of sports, an athlete, athletic trainer, a coach or sports medicine physician, look out for bone stress injuries,” said Dr. Shybut. “Consider imaging. Intervene early with training modifications and rehabilitative measures.”

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