Although you may not be familiar with the fifth metatarsal, if you’ve fractured it, chances are you’re in pain and need treatment. The fifth metatarsal is the long bone on the outside of your foot that connects to your little toe.
How Does the Fifth Metatarsal Get Fractured?
The fifth metatarsal can get fractured either as the result of a sudden acute injury or from overuse and repetitive trauma. The bone can fracture at any point but two common fractures are an Avulsion Fracture and a Jones Fracture. An Avulsion Fracture is usually caused by an injury where the ankle rolls. A small piece of bone is pulled off the main portion of the bone by a tendon or ligament. A Jones Fracture occurs in an area of the bone that receives less blood and can be due to an acute injury or it can be a stress fracture—a tiny, hairline break that occurs over a long period of time, usually because of a repeated activity that puts a stress on that part of the foot.
How Do you Know if Your Fifth Metatarsal is Broken?
Symptoms of a fifth metatarsal fracture include:
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling on the outside of the foot
- In some cases, bruising
- Difficulty walking due to the pain
For a definitive diagnosis, you will need to see a foot and ankle surgeon. At Great Neck Family Foot Care, our board certified podiatrists, Alec Hochstein, D.P.M. and Diana Gagliano, D.P.M. are experts in treating foot and ankle fractures. First, your foot doctor will want to know how the injury occurred. He or she will then examine your foot and digital x-rays will be ordered (which can be done right in our office). In some cases, additional imaging studies may be needed because a Jones fracture may not be visible on an x-ray.
Fixing a Fractured Fifth Metatarsal
Your podiatrist will decide on the best treatment method for your fracture. Options include:
- Immobilization—a cast, boot, or stiff-soled shoe may be used to keep the foot immobile and allow the bone to heal. Crutches may also be prescribed to keep weight off the injured foot.
- Bone stimulation—an external device is used to stimulate the bone and help speed healing. This painless method is often helpful for Jones fractures.
- Surgery—if the injury is severe, or the fracture has not responded to the above two methods of treatment, surgery may be required.
If you suspect you may have fractured your fifth metatarsal, contact our Great Neck office today by phone at (516) 482-5999 to schedule an appointment.