March fractures are injuries on the foot, which can cause extreme pain on the leg when the individual increases the weight that is put on it. Also known as the metatarsal stress fracture, it was given the name ‘march’ fracture because it is very common among recruits who are obliged to walk long miles. March fractures can lead to swelling, numbness, and pain even when the injured area is put at rest. This type of injury can also be classified as a stress fracture, meaning that there are hairline cracks found on the surface of the bone. If a stress fracture is not immediately treated, it can develop into a complete fracture and may require surgery.
March Fracture Types
• Stress fracture. This is caused by exerting too much stress on the foot area. Stress fractures occur when the metatarsal bones cannot able to absorb the shock placed on them. Stress fractures on foot area are commonly found on the lower leg particularly on the tibia (shin) bone. People who are most at risk are athletes who regularly experience heavy footfalls on stiff, solid surfaces. Examples of sports where stress fractures are common are the gymnastics, tennis, and basketball.
• Shin splints. This type of fracture exhibits the same symptoms suffered from stress fractures of the tibia but they are instead caused by the inflammation of the periosteum or the inflammation of the bone lining. This injury is also caused by the overuse of the bones and is common among dancers, runners, walkers, and people who regularly do aerobics.
March Fracture Diagnosis
Diagnosing a march fracture involves indicating the source of the injury and the medical history of the patient. A physical examination is a requirement for this type of fracture because the doctor will need to identify whether there are other joints or ligaments that are also affected by the injury. The examination will involve asking the patient to lift some objects, flexing the lower limb particularly the foot, and some simple walking exercises. Bone scans are also commonly required because these are what the doctors use as their primary reference in studying the extent of the injury. However, for stress fractures, more powerful imaging machines like MRI and CT scans are used when the x-rays are not powerful enough to show the hairline cracks on the bones’ surface. Rehabilitation or rehab is a must here.
• Sporting accidents
• Repetitive application of stress on the metatarsal bones
• Falling from a height
• New footwear
• Insufficient rest periods after training
• Neuropathic foot
March Fracture Symptoms
• Deformed shape of the foot
• Pain when the injured is put on rest
March Fracture Treatment
Most march bone fractures are minor injuries only so the cases that need surgery are very few. Overall, treatment for this type of injury consists of very conservative methods like the use of ice packs, taking lots of rest, and having anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen. As long as the fracture cracks are seen on x-ray scans, this means that the injury can be healed by having six to eight weeks of rest. Athletes who have hairline fractures should refrain from doing activities that can cause stress injuries for a couple of weeks to a couple of months to make sure that the hairline cracks will heal completely.
In less severe cases like when there is an incomplete fracture, external fixation tools such as casts and slings can be used. However, for more severe bone injury with complete breakage and fragments, surgery will be needed and the use of wires and pins to attach the bone must be considered. Moreover, the use of internal fixation or surgery is rarely needed for march bone fractures because most cases of this injury are confined only on one place.
March Fracture Recovery Time and Healing Time: It requires more than 8 weeks.
Prevention of March Bone Injury
Prevention of march fractures involve refraining in exposing the bone to too much force. Hairline fractures start to develop if the stress applied on the bones is greater than the level of resistance the bones have. This is the reason why athletes who constantly train and participate on their respective sports are very likely to develop this injury. To prevent having march fractures, having a warm-up before doing any high-energy activity can help. Having trainings in a gradual manner can also keep the bones from being over stressed.
When to Call a Doctor
March fractures are tricky because they do not immediately show symptoms and do not show themselves easily on the x-rays. For people who are constantly doing highly physical activities, regularly dropping to their doctor’s clinic should be done so that he will know if he happens to have this type of fracture. Passing pains on the foot area is also a sign that a person should go and check with his physician.