Sacral Stress Fracture

A sacral stress fracture is a small break in the sacrum. The sacrum is a large triangular bone at the base of the spine. The sacrum connects to the pelvis.

  • Causes

    Sacral stress fractures can be caused by repetitive stress or weakened bones.

  • Definition

    A sacral stress fracture is a small break in the sacrum. The sacrum is a large triangular bone at the base of the spine. The sacrum connects to the pelvis.

    Sacrum
    Sacrum
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  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a spine specialist or a surgeon who specializes in bone problems.

    Imaging tests may be necessary to see internal structures. These tests may include:

    • X-ray—to view any small cracks in the sacral bone
    • CT scan
    • MRI—to look for swelling and inflammation inside the bone and surrounding tissue
    • Bone scan—a test that detects
      areas of increased or decreased bone activity

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of getting a sacral stress fracture, take these steps:

    • Make gradual changes in intensity when exercising
    • Use proper equipment and technique when playing sports
    • Talk to your doctor about how to prevent osteoporosis

    To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:

    • Clean spills and slippery areas right away
    • Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter
    • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower
    • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub
    • Put in handrails on both sides of stairways
    • Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls
    • Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage

  • Risk Factors

    Sacral stress fractures are most common in young athletes and older women with osteoporosis. Other factors that may increase your chance of a sacral stress fracture include:

    • Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or absent menstrual cycles, or post-menopause
    • Adolescents with incomplete bone growth
    • Playing certain sports that may result in collisions or falls, such as gymnastics, football, or other high-impact sports
    • Long-distance running
    • Weight-bearing activities, such as weight lifting or military training
    • Radiation therapy
    • History of Paget's disease, hyperparathyroidism, osteopenia, or rheumatoid arthritis

  • Symptoms

    The most common symptom of a sacral stress fracture is low back pain. If you have unexplained lower back pain, talk to your doctor. Prompt treatment can prevent the injury from further problems.

    Other symptoms may include:

    • Pain in hip or pelvis
    • Pain to buttocks or groin
    • Increase in pain during your workout
    • Lower back tenderness when touched
    • Swelling at lower back

  • Treatment

    In general, treatment depends on the cause and severity.


    Treatment options for a sacral stress fracture include: