Fifth Metatarsal: Common Site of Fracture
The fifth metatarsal bone is a frequent site of fracture— either acute (caused by an injury) or chronic (caused by repeated stress on the bone). With acute fractures, the patient may report hearing a cracking sound, followed by pain, swelling and bruising. A stress fracture may develop more gradually but the end result (pain and swelling) is the same.
Because the fifth metatarsal bone consists of several parts— the base (closest to the ankle), body or shaft, and head (closest to the toe)— a fracture can affect the bone in various ways. We treat the entire range of fractures in our clinics in DeSoto, Dallas and Sunnyvale (Texas).
- An avulsion fracture occurs when a tendon pulls a small fragment away from the main part of the bone. Known as a dancer’s fracture, this happens when the ankle rolls inward.
- Jones fractures occur farther down the bone, in an area of the fifth metatarsal that has poor blood supply. Jones fractures tend to be less common and take longer to heal than avulsion fractures.
- Other fractures include displaced, undisplaced, spiral, greenstick, and comminuted. Our medical staff can diagnose the location and severity of the injury, and develop a treatment plan tailored to the specific injury.
Diagnosing the Fractured Fifth Metatarsai
Avulsion and Jones fractures share some signs and symptoms, including pain and swelling on the outside area of the foot (away from the midline of the body), difficulty walking and possible bruising.
To determine whether there is a fracture of the fifth metatarsai, our medical staff examines the foot and asks the patient to describe the event, if any, that caused the injury. The doctor may order x-rays and additional imaging tests.
Any symptoms should prompt a call to our clinic so that diagnosis and treatment can begin as soon as feasible. While it is possible to walk with a fractured fifth metatarsal bone, it is not advisable.
Treating Fractures of the Fifth Metatarsai
An avulsion fracture may be treated with:
- Immobilization with a cast, boot, or stiff shoe. Crutches may be prescribed to help keep weight off the injured foot.
- Surgery is indicated if the injury involves a displaced bone or multiple breaks, or if the injury fails to respond to conservative therapy.
A Jones fracture may be treated with:
- Immobilization— although typically the immobilization period is longer for a Jones fracture than for an avulsion fracture.
- Bone stimulation employees a pain-free external device to speed healing. Bone stimulation may be added to the treatment plan if immobilization is not effective.
- Surgery may be indicated in the case of Jones fractures which do not respond to immobilization and bone stimulation.
It is important to seek treatment as soon as symptoms begin. Fractures of the fifth metatarsal bone usually respond well to treatment, but untreated injuries may carry the risk of delayed bone union, muscle atrophy and chronic pain.
Our trained medical staff in DeSoto, Dallas and Sunnyvale have the background and experience to diagnose and treat the entire range of metatarsal fractures.