THIS POST IS PART OF THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SPORTS MEDICINE
A metatarsal fracture occurs when one of the five long bones of the midfoot is broken.
The feet contain nearly one-forth of all the bones in your body, which provide you with support and movement. There are 26 bones in one foot: 14 toe bones, five long metatarsal bones and seven tarsal bones. The metatarsals are the bones that connect your toes to your foot.
The metatarsal bones are some of the most commonly fractured (broken) bones in the foot. The two main types of metatarsal fractures are acute fractures, which are due to a sudden injury like dropping something heavy on your foot or a fall; and stress fractures, which are due to overuse or repetitive injury to a metatarsal bone, such as repetitive running or jumping.
Symptoms of a broken metatarsal
- Bruising of the foot
- Inability to walk normally
- Inability to walk at all
Your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, have you describe your symptoms and how the injury occurred, and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to rule out other problems.
Metatarsal fracture treatment
In most cases, surgery is not necessary. Keep weight off the leg and apply ice to reduce swelling. Protecting the fracture is the primary treatment; stay away from the activity that triggered the injury or any activity that causes pain at the fracture site. Usually the foot will be protected with a short leg walking cast, a brace or a flat-bottom shoe.
Surgery is rarely required; however, if nonsurgical treatment fails to decrease pain in your foot, your physician may recommend surgery.
It could take six to eight weeks for the bone to heal. Gradually you may return to the activity, your physician will help determine how to avoid a recurrence.