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5th Metatarsal Fracture

There are five long metatarsal bones in each foot. The fifth metatarsal bone is attached to the little toe on the outside of the foot.

What causes 5th metatarsal fractures?

The 5th metatarsal bone is the most likely of the metatarsals to be fractured and this can often happen during team sports, dancing or gymnastics, when the foot is twisted, or rolls inwards which can also cause ankle sprain. Types of fracture include:

  • Avulsion fracture: this often happens alongside an ankle sprain. This fracture is at the base of the fifth metatarsal and doesn’t usually involve the bone being displaced
  • Jones fracture: this affects the joint further down and is usually caused by stress across the bone while the heel is off the ground; there is poor blood supply to the bone at this point which means it can be slow to heal
  • Spiral or oblique shaft fracture: this is located nearer to the toe and can be caused either by a blow to the foot or stresses on the bone; this type of injury often means the bone becomes displaced. This type of injury is more common among gymnasts and dancers
  • Stress fractures, caused by overuse

What are the signs of a fracture to the 5th metatarsal?

Signs include pain, swelling and bruising, and you may also hear a crack as the bone breaks. It may be difficult to put weight on the foot, although you may still be able to walk with a limp. It’s a good idea to seek medical advice as soon as possible as there may also be other injuries, including ankle sprain or Lisfranc injury.

How is a 5th metatarsal fracture diagnosed?

During your first appointment, you’ll have an opportunity to discuss your symptoms with Mr Heidari, who will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment. He may also arrange X-rays to confirm a diagnosis.

What does treatment involve?

Treatment depends on the type of fracture and where it is, whether it is open (where the skin is broken) or displaced (the bones become misaligned). However, most 5th metatarsal fractures can be treated wearing a specially designed walking boot, with crutches to keep your weight off the foot.

You may also be advised to rest, raise the foot above the level of your heart as much as possible, and take anti-inflammatory painkillers. It can take up to 12 weeks to recover fully although, in most cases, people can return to their usual sport without any long term problems. However, in some cases, Mr Heidari may suggest that you have surgery to realign the bones and repair any damage to improve the long term outcome.

Important
This information is written as a guide to your treatment but it is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Please contact us for advice if you are worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.