Metatarsal Fractures: How Serious Are They?
You may not know what a metatarsal is, much less whether yours is broken or not. Here’s a clue: If you can’t walk because of excruciating pain in the middle of your foot, it might be a serious metatarsal fracture. Metatarsals are the long bones that run from your toe bones to the bones at the back of your foot. Like all the bones in your feet, they are subjected to stress with every step that you take. Extra trauma like twisting your foot, rolling it inward, or landing hard from a jump can cause one of them to break. Fortunately, many of them will heal well with conservative treatment, but some may require surgery to heal properly. If you can’t stand to put weight on your foot, it’s time to seek help from Aadvanced Foot Care Associates.
Who is at Risk?
Broken bones occur more frequently in young children because their bones are weaker and still being formed. Adult bones are stronger than ligaments, so trauma may result in a sprain instead of a break. The elderly may also be more at risk because bones can become thinner as we age. About 1 in 10 bone fractures occur in the foot. Fractures of the metatarsal are common in people who run, jump and move from side to side a lot – like football, soccer, or basketball players and ballet dancers.
What are Symptoms of a Broken Bone?
If it’s a bad break that has pierced the skin, there will be no doubt that it’s broken. If it’s a closed break, under the skin, the pain might be too severe for you to put weight on your foot, but not always. You may also notice swelling and bruising at the site. These symptoms can also be present with a sprain, though, so you may not know for sure unless your foot is x-rayed. It is best to keep the weight off your foot until you have it checked.
How are Metatarsal Fractures Treated?
The location and extent of the break will determine what treatment you need. A break in the first metatarsal (leading to your big toe) may only need a surgical boot and weight kept off of the foot, if the bone fragments are still aligned well. If they are out of position, they may need to be put in place and pinned surgically. Breaks in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th metatarsals may only need to be properly wrapped with an ace bandage and rested as much as possible. Breaks in these bones are often stress fractures rather than full breaks. A 5th metatarsal break may be more complicated, depending on where in the bone the break occurs. Some may be treated similarly to other breaks, but a Jones fracture of the narrower shaft of the bone may not heal without surgery.
Dr. Hal Abrahamson and Dr. Daniel E. Orozco of Aadvanced Foot Care Associates have 40 years of combined experience in treating all types of foot problems. If you suspect you have a broken foot, call (718) 896-4433 to set up an appointment at one of the 3 New York locations: Rego Park, Plainview, or Flushing. Your feet deserve the best care!