First described as a condition affecting the Prussian army back in 1885, a “march fracture” is a type of stress fracture that affects one of the metatarsals in your feet. Like most types of stress fractures, the condition is commonly caused by overuse and repetitive action, like one might experience when marching along in the army. While battle strategy has come a long was since then, the march fracture still develops in individuals who put consistent pressure on the forefront of their feet. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the condition and explain how march fractures are treated.
What Is A March Fracture?
A march fracture is classified as fracture that develops in the second or third metatarsal bones of the foot, and fractures in the third metatarsal are the most common because they tend to have a longer and thinner structure. They can occur abruptly due to acute force, but more often they develop slowly over time. Athletes who over-train or runners who increase their distance too quickly are very susceptible to march fractures.
Symptoms of a march fracture tend to develop in the front and middle of the foot and include:
Pain that worsens with activity and pressure and gets better with rest
It’s also worth noting that symptoms are usually mild as the microfractures begin to develop, and then they get worse as the stress fractures grow, which speaks to the importance of treating the problem at the first sign of symptoms.
Treating March Fractures
March fractures are treated like most types of stress fractures – with simple conservative care techniques. The goal of treatment is to protect the area and give the bone time to heal. However, rest alone isn’t the only action you’ll want to take to help put your march fracture in the past.
At the outset, treatment will involve a combination of rest, anti-inflammatory medications, and potentially some non-weight bearing devices, like a walking boot or crutches. These are designed to help keep you comfortable and take stress off of the metatarsal while the bone heals. This type of treatment typically lasts anywhere from 3-6 weeks depending on the severity of your fracture. From there, you’ll transition to a more active rehabilitation program.
The active rehabilitation program is designed to help strengthen your foot and supportive structures so that your metatarsals don’t have to handle as much stress with each step. You’ll be prescribed a combination of physical therapy and low-impact exercises to help build these supportive tissues. From there, it’s just a matter of slowly working to build up your stress tolerance and working your way back to full activity.
So if you believe you’ve suffered a march fracture, or you’re just dealing with pain and sensitivity in your forefoot, reach out to Dr. Silverman and let him set you up with a treatment plan that will have you back on your feet in no time. For more information, contact his office today at (952) 224-8500.