Fatigue Fracture



A march stress fracture is an overuse injury caused by repetitive stress to the foot. It can also be caused by normal stress on weakened bones.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in women. Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Doing sports that put impact on the feet, such as:
    • Running
    • Basketball
    • Dancing
    • Jumping events in track
  • Military training
  • Female athlete triad
  • Having problems that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis



A march stress fracture may cause pain in the middle or front of the foot. There may be swelling. The foot will feel better when resting and feel worse with activity.


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the foot. You will be asked about the activities that you do. A doctor who treats bones may need to examine the foot. A doctor who treats athletes may also be needed.

Images may be taken of the foot. This can be done with:

  • X-ray
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan



Stress fractures are treated with rest and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The foot will need rest for 6 to 8 weeks. Crutches may be needed to avoid putting weight on the foot. A brace or cast may also be needed.

Some people may need surgery to help the bone heal. This can be done with pins, screws, and plates to hold the bones together.


This problem cannot always be prevented. Starting a new sport slowly may help lower the risk of injury.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.