Stress Fractures and Eating Disorders

Diagram of the Foot looking from above. It shows various types of fractures that involve the fifth metatarsal

I have just been diagnosed with my third fracture in 18 months. The last two occurred when I fell down the stairs and this one is a stress fracture presumably from work as I teach ballet six days a week. I have had other stress fractures before and also broke a bone that required surgery a few years ago. I am currently waiting on a referral to a knee surgeon as I also have cartilage damage in both knees.

There are many articles on ED and its effects on bone density and studies “showing that stress fractures were significantly associated with a more-restrictive diet”.*  There are also a lot of studies on dancers with ED and injuries: “It isn’t surprising that ballet dancers who have stress fractures also diet more and eat less”.**

I remember as a teenager with anorexia that my mother warned me about the toll it would take on me when I was older. Now at 30, I have soft bones. I will be in a walking cast for 4-6 weeks which is depressing to say the least. I will still be able to go to yoga as long as I modify the poses. None of this stopped me from bingeing or purging today. After all, the damage has already been done….why stop now?!

* Am J Clin Nutr. 1990 May;51(5):779-83.

Nutrition and the incidence of stress fractures in ballet dancers.


Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, St Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, New York, NY 10019.

**Brooks-Gunn, J, Dhuper, Saruta, Fox, Richard P, Frusztajer, Nina T and Warren, Michelle P.

1990 Nutrition and the incidence of stress fractures in ballet dancers. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 5: 51, 779-783.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,, accessed January 25, 2012.

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5 thoughts on “Stress Fractures and Eating Disorders

  1. veganfoodlog says:

    I’m so sorry 😦
    But I can relate- I have had a stress fracture and currently have a generalised ‘stress reaction’ in the bones of my feet that gives me pain if I walk to far. I was recently diagnosed with osteopenia and am supposed to by trying to gain weight, to regain menstruation as that is the best thing for calcium absorption for the bones.
    Yet last night I bpd rather than digest what I ate.
    I’m nearly 30 too.
    Its one thing to know what logically needs to be done and so much harder to actually do it….

  2. This is my sad face:
    (No, really, that’s exactly what I look like when I’m sad.)
    It really sucks having to deal with the consequences of having an eating disorder. I guess my bulimia decided that none of my insides need to work properly, so that makes life extra super fun. It’s too bad about your fracture. I wish you’d use it as incentive to take better care of yourself. *nudge, nudge*

  3. Aww this is awful!! I had stress fractures in my right shin from self-injury in college… and they sucked. It especially sucked knowing that I had contributed to the injury. You can’t change what’s in the past, but you can take good care of yourself from this minute forward. And this is your only body, chickadee! I agree with Lyrics… this would make a great incentive to show your body some love. Sending hugs. xoxo, g.

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