Foot and Metatarsal (Toe) Fractures

The structure of the foot is complex, consisting of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues. Of the 28 bones in the foot, 19 are toe bones and metatarsal bones. Fractures of the toe and metatarsal bones are common and require our evaluation.


Causes & Symptoms

Breaks in the metatarsal bones may be either stress or traumatic fractures. Sometimes a fracture of the first metatarsal bone (behind the big toe) can lead to arthritis. Since the big toe is used so frequently and bears more weight than other toes, arthritis in that area can make it painful to walk, bend or even stand.

Another type of break, called a Jones fracture, occurs at the base of the fifth metatarsal bone. It is often misdiagnosed as an ankle sprain, and misdiagnosis can have serious consequences since sprains and fractures require different treatments.


Our Approach

Contact us as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment, even if initial treatment has been received in an emergency room. We can correctly identify these conditions as well as other problems of the foot.

Our treatment depends on the type and extent of the fracture and may include:

  • Immobilization, casting or rigid shoe. A stiff-soled shoe or another form of immobilization may be used to protect the fractured bone while it is healing. Use of a postoperative shoe or boot walker is also helpful.
  • Surgery. Some traumatic fractures of the metatarsal bones require surgery, especially if the broken bone is severely displaced.
  • Follow-up care. Your foot and ankle surgeon will provide instructions for care following surgical or nonsurgical treatment. Physical therapy, exercises, and rehabilitation may be included in a schedule for return to normal activities.
  • Rest. Sometimes rest is the only treatment needed to promote healing of a stress or traumatic fracture of a metatarsal bone.
  • Avoid the offending activity. Because stress fractures result from repetitive stress, it is important to avoid the activity that led to the fracture. Crutches or a wheelchair are sometimes required to offload weight from the foot to give it time to heal.


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