March is typically the month when runners in colder climates (like ours) begin training outdoors. This can bring about another famous “March” – the dreaded march fracture. Historically, a metatarsal stress fracture has been called a march fracture because it was seen in soldiers who were marching for long periods of time. The International Association of Athletics Federations has been quoted as describing stress fractures as “the curse of athletes.”
Here are some important facts:
Cause: Repetitive microtrauma to a bone, which develops over a period of days, weeks or months.
Symptoms: Pain, especially with activity; sometimes swelling develops.
Tests to confirm diagnosis: X-rays if problem is at least 3 weeks old; MRI; bone scan.
- Treatment: Rest; trauma shoe or brace; rarely is a cast needed.
So how can one try to prevent stress fractures? Changes in frequency or intensity of training should be gradual. Supportive footwear with shock-absorbing inserts are helpful. Supplemental calcium and vitamin D may help improve bone density for individuals at risk for low bone mineral density.
If you suspect a stress fracture, please call our office at 847-675-3400 for an evaluation or schedule your appointment online at www.skokiepodiatry.com.