About this disease

What it is about

In 1855, the Prussian military physician Breithaupt described the marching fracture. He had noticed that young soldiers often suffered from a painful swelling of the forefoot. The cause was fractures of metatarsal bones that had become "rotten" due to extended forced marches. Today, such fatigue fractures occur frequently in athletes, both professional and amateur. Women are affected more frequently than men.


Depending on the focus of the stress, the fractures can occur in different areas of the skeleton. In about 85 percent of cases, the lower limbs are affected: Metatarsal, calcaneus, tibia or the femoral neck of the thigh bone. In detail, this depends on the running or jumping style as well as anatomical conditions such as malpositions.

Symptoms and consequences

Fatigue fractures often occur insidiously. The first signs are pain in the bone and swelling, possibly with redness and warming.

What we do for you

Examination and diagnosis

Examination may reveal localized tenderness, possibly accompanied by swelling and redness. Initially, nothing is recognizable in the X-ray image, since it is not an actual fracture and the remodeling processes of the bone are not immediately visible. The bone is never displaced as in a classic fracture. It therefore takes an MRI to visualize a fatigue fracture.


The most important measure in the case of a fatigue fracture is to relieve the bone. First and foremost, this means taking a break from the sport that triggered the fracture, because the bone must be more or less immobilized. Gentle sports such as cycling, swimming or aqua jogging are permitted if there is no pain. Strength training, stretching, and coordination exercises can also be done, as long as they do not stress the bone. As long as there is no pain, one may otherwise move normally. A first follow-up is done after six weeks.

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