stress fractures--copy from parent forum

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Stress Fractures
Hello all -

I'm new to this forum after stumbling upon it a few months ago. I've been lurking since but would like to join in. I'm not sure if this is the best place to present this question but thought I'd start here with the parents.

I have an 11 year old DD who is competing level 7 this year. She has been participating in gymnastics since she was a preschooler. She has had her bumps and bruises along the way - flare ups with Sever's Disease and some knee pain but no significant injuries caused by gymnastics.

About two weeks ago, she began complaining of back pain. I took her to her pediatrician who thought it was likely a muscle strain but she referred her for a second opinion to an orthopedic sports medicine doctor who my dd has seen before. She was seen yesterday in his office. After examining her, he suspected a stress fracture in her back. He did not see anything in the x-ray indicating a stress fracture but the doctor in training with him thought "he might see something" so she is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow. We discussed the recuperation time for a stress fracture in her back and he said 6 months to 1 year. My daughter is devastated by this news as am I for her.

Does anyone have any experience with stress fractures in the back of your young gymnasts. I have a hard time seeing her taking so much time off and then returning to the sport. My fear is what will the next injury be or will she again fracture her back. Any advice is appreciated. My DD was supposed to compete this weekend but is out until we find out the results of the MRI a week from tomorrow.

Thanks for any input.



I saw this post in the parent forum and I wanted to comment on it because I suffered a stress fracture to L5 as a gymnast. I was 16 when the fracture was actually diagnosed, but it had been fractured for a few years before I actually went to the doctor (I have a high tolerance for pain and I'm also very stubborn). At this time I was a level 10 and spending about 30 hours a week in the gym. I was placed in a back brace for 10 weeks with strict instructions from the doctor to do no physical activity except walking. After being in the brace for 10 weeks X-rays were performed again to see if it had healed---luckily it had healed and I was sent back to gym with the instructions of starting slowly and stopping with the sign of any pain.

It seems as though, if a slight fracture appears on the MRI, that you guys caught it early and that it will not take as long or as much time off to heal. One thing that is important is to do lots of physcial therapy when you start back, which is something that I did not do.

Sadly, 2 years later I had to retire from gym because the fracture had refractured in the same exact spot. At that time, I was told that if the fracture would take 6 months to a year to begin healing and that was if it would heal at all. This was when I learned that not doing any physcial therapy really hindered the complete healing of my back.

Stress fractures in the lower back is a very common injury in gymnasts because of the vast amount of hyperextension and stress placed on the vertebrae. Being that the fracture is not visible on the X-ray I would think that not as much time would need taken off, but I'm not a professional. Long story short, I hope there's not a fracture, but if there is stay strong and ensure her that everything will be alright.


Jul 5, 2007
I know a couple of people who were told they had stress fx's in their back (caught early) that wouldn't get worse in a few weeks, they just wouldn't get better unless they took time off. So if it was near states they might train what they could and then took the time off in the summer. But either way it seemed like activity had to be really limited in order for it to heal, not just moderately scaled back. And I knew one person who was basically told she should stop doing gymnastics completely because it was going to be a continuing problem with possible long term consequences (that was in Level 6 so if it was already a problem then I suspect that was probably true). But she does some events in high school now.

I haven't known anyone who got a stress fracture on their back confirmed from an x-ray, but sometimes it happens. Usually an MRI or a bone scan (some ones that are obscured can be pretty bad and not show up on x-rays. I don't know why the bone scan is used over the MRI in some instances, I just know that's how some people have had it diagnosed. But I've never had one. I've had two MRIs). I think though that sometimes it has more to do with placement than severity - the one girl who had to quit in L6 needed a bone scan for them to see hers and it was pretty bad.


Back Injury

I'm a gymnast (around level 7/8 ish), and dealing with a back injury. In Spring 2008, I started out having back pain. After X-rays, mri's, bone scans- they concluded that I had A stress fracture in L5 (pars). I was out for around 3 monthes and then began physical therapy. I was pain free for about 6 monthes, but then similar pain returned. I went back to the same doctors, and they said that it was muscle pain and to basically take motrin and keep going lightly. That was in around November 2008, and I also went back to PT for Abouta month or so with no luck. In May 2009, I switched doctors but was not impressed with them either. I finally went to a sports back specialist who sees similar gymnastics injuries about once a month. We are very happy with them, and we decided to take a break from gymnastics to heal. A couple weeks later, the pain wasnt subsiding, so we decided for me to wear a back brace. The plan now is to wear it 23 hrs a day for 12 weeks then start PT, and wear it 12hrs a day for 12 more weeks. Then slowly start back into gymnastics. Its SO hard not to be in the gym.... I miss It lots...... I will hopefully start back in Early October... so over 4 monthes off..... but I'll do whatever It takes to get back in the gym!! I love gymnastics!
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