Metatarsal fractures are common injuries of the foot which are the long bones in the mid foot. In adults, metatarsal fractures peak in the second to fifth decades of life. The most frequent fracture seen is the fifth metatarsal, accounting for 68% of metatarsal fracture.
Fifth metatarsal fracture usually presents with history of acute trauma or repetitive trauma to the forefoot. This may be due to sudden injury (an acute fracture), or due to repeated stress (stress fracture – link to stress fractures section). With acute fractures the most common mechanism of injury is an inversion injury where the forefoot is supinated (twisted round) and plantar flexed (pointing forwards). This results in pull from the lateral band of the plantar fascia (connective tissue) and Peroneus Brevis (muscles).
If you think you’ve broken the 5th metatarsal seek medical help as soon as possible. NHS advise you call 111 or go to an urgent care centre. Click here for more information.
The team assessing a suspected fracture may take an X-ray – to determine whether a fracture is displaced or not displaced. A displaced fracture is less common and may need to be properly lined up and stabilised. This may involve an anaesthetic and potentially metal pinning or plating of the bones.
Each fracture will require individual assessment and guidance it is likely, however, a walker boot and crutches are issued to help with walking. Normally patients are permitted to put as much weight on your foot as comfort allows. It is common if a boot or plaster shoe is issued, the individual can decide themselves when it is comfortable to wear normal shoes.
Elevation of your leg and applying cold packs on your foot may help with the swelling.
Commonly after a foot injury, the strength in the leg and back muscles is reduced. Also our biomechanics (the way you walk/alignment of the feet/lower limbs) can change. Therefore, it is vital to ensure a phased/graded return to sport/activity to reduce to risk of re-injury and other subsequent conditions such as back and knee pain. Appropriate strength and conditioning is required for rehabilitation.
Your clinician at Pure Physiotherapy will help guide you through the most appropriate treatment and management. The Physiotherapist may help work out a specific plan to modify activities which you may be struggling with due to your pain. The Physiotherapist can also answer any questions you may have about your pain, such as what is causing the pain and the likely recovery time with your rehabilitation programme.
Bowes, J., & Buckley, R. (2016). Fifth metatarsal fractures and current treatment. World journal of orthopedics, 7(12), 793.