There is a type of stress fracture that commonly occurs in people in the military, and it is called a march fracture of one of the metatarsals. The condition was first described in 1885, experienced by Prussian soldiers. As with other types of stress fractures, it occurs due to repetitive microtrauma to the area from overuse. In the case of march fractures, which account for 25 percent of all stress fractures, it occurs in the second and third metatarsal bones of the foot, which are more prone to damage due to their thin and long structures. March fractures usually develop over a period of weeks or months.
Despite the name, march fractures are not exclusive to those in the military, they may also be experienced by people who run, play sports, or spend a lot of time on their feet. Most march fractures occur due to a sudden increase in activity, and those with a history of stress fractures are more likely to develop another.
A march fracture produces symptoms in the middle or front of the foot. There is usually pain, tenderness, and swelling, and the pain worsens with activity and is relieved with rest. In the early stages, symptoms of March fractures may hardly be noticeable. The development of symptoms is usually gradual.
Patients with march fractures heal with nonsurgical treatments most of the time. March fractures are treated with anti-inflammatories, an icing regimen, rest, and the avoidance of weight-bearing and the activity that caused the development of the fracture. The first four weeks after a diagnosis are critical and special care should be taken. Depending on the severity and stage of the fractures, casting or bracing and the use of crutches may be included in treatment. Following a period of rest, the patient may start with a rehabilitation program to assist in the gradual return to activity. It is important to ease your way back into activities, starting with low-impact and non-weight-bearing activities first.
Your orthopedic doctor and physical therapist can help with the prevention of March fractures by identifying and correcting the factors that have caused it. March fractures can have functional or biomechanical causes or may be due to improper footwear or mineral deficiencies. March fractures are secondary to bone fatigue and bone insufficiency. Bone fatigue occurs when the bone is unable to resist mechanical demands, while bone insufficiency is when the patient’s calcium or mineral deficiency may contribute to a weakening of the bones, making them susceptible to fractures. March fractures are best treated by a specialist. If you suspect a fracture, no matter how mild your symptoms may be, see a specialist as soon as possible.
Foot and Ankle Doctor in San Antonio, TX
Our foot and ankle surgeons at The Podiatry Group of South Texas provide comprehensive care for patients with foot and ankle fractures. For stress fractures, we advise that you keep your weight off the affected foot until your appointment, during which we use a bone scan or MRI to confirm the fracture. To schedule your visit with a foot and ankle specialist, call the location nearest to you or use our online request form.