What is the prevalence of metatarsal stress fractures?

Updated: Jan 16, 2019
  • Author: Valerie E Cothran, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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United States

The incidence of stress fractures in the general population is unknown, as virtually all literature on the subject is derived from a military population or advanced-level athletes. Stress fractures are estimated to constitute up to 16% of all injuries that are related to athletic participation; running is the cause in most of these cases. Most stress fractures (95%) involve the lower extremities, particularly the metatarsals.

A study by Waterman et al reported the incidence rate for lower extremity stress fractures in the US military (not adjusted for sex, race, age, rank, and service branch), including of the metatarsals, to be 5.69 per 1000 person-years, although tibial/fibular fractures were the most common. The highest fracture risk was found in service members under age 20 years or age 40 years or above, with the risk also higher in white service members than in black service members. [7]

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