Metatarsal fractures are a painful foot injury that affects many in the sporting world. Many famous names in sport have been hit with this in some cases career ending foot injury.
To know fully about metatarsal fractures it is best to know a little bit more about how your foot is put together and how your feet work.
In each of your feet you have precisely 5 metatarsal bones, these long bones are found in between your “phalanges” toes bones and the “tarsal” bones around the hind of the foot.
You ankle has been designed with two specific uses which are support and propulsion. So the bones in your foot must be able to cope and be mobile under immense pressure and strain from your bodyweight. The metatarsal bones have been designed to help with propulsion and support, the metatarsal bones will act as a lever for your foot helping your to bend your foot whilst walking, jumping and running, they also help to stabilize the foot and help with supporting the structure of your foot to hold your body weight.
There are many causes to why people fracture the metatarsal bones including that of over use or harsh rotation of the foot, or direct trauma; for example metatarsal fractures occur frequently in football when a player accidentally kicks another player’s foot or steps on it, or even when a player accidentally kicks the ground instead of the football.
You can injure specific metatarsal bones, injuring the 2nd 3rd and 4th metatarsal bones is quite frequent in football by the accidents that can happen above.
Metatarsal fractures can occur from over use too making sports people more susceptible. Overuse will often cause stress fractures on the bones; the pain in the metatarsal area will gradually increase as the stress fractures weaken the bones and causing a full fracture to the bones as the stress builds.
Metatarsal fractures can cause real pain in suffers, making walking very hard, people suffering from metatarsal fractures will usually have swollen feet and it will be painful to touch the metatarsal area.
There are a few things that you can do if you have a metatarsal fracture:
-see a doctor or physiotherapist for full diagnosis
-reduce swelling and inflammation with cold ice (this can also help to reduce pain as well as swelling can cause pressure on the tissues around the metatarsal bones causing pain)
Protect the foot from further stress and damage with a cast
Often doctors will use x rays to confirm whether the metatarsal bones are fractured or not. Depending on the severity of the fracture treatment and recover will often last somewhere between 6-8 weeks.
Having a removable plastic cast that support the foot but also can be removed is the preferred option to a pot or plaster cast as physiotherapy is a major part of recovering from metatarsal fractures so removing it to do physiotherapy is important.
Metatarsal pads can be used to help strengthen the metatarsal area after you have recovered.
It is always a good idea to wear footwear and insoles that can help protect your foot from fractures; however it does depend on the force as sometimes no amount of protection can prevent a fracture.