The first, second and fifth metatarsal bones are mostly involved. Pain is sharp and instant. Sometimes, one can even hear the cracking sound of the bone. Swelling and bruising occur within 24 hours.
The broken ends of the fractured bone may remain in place or get dislocated (usually with severe impact), in which case the outer shape of the foot is deformed. The area becomes tender and unable to bear any pressure.
Treatment is mainly aimed at relieving pain and supporting the damaged bone.
Initially, ice application and elevating the injured foot helps to control pain and swelling.
If the fractured ends are in place or just slightly displaced sideways, just A supportive dressing is enough, along with the use of crutches to keep the weight off the injured foot.
For severe pain, a short cast may be applied for 2-3 weeks to completely immobilize the fractured bone.
For greatly displaced fractures, surgery may be required to re-align the fractured ends.
Anti-inflammatory drugs help relieve pain and swelling.
The metatarsals are the second most common location after the tibia (the lower leg bone), for stress fractures. Stress fractures appear gradually. These start as micro-fractures resulting from excessive workout or stress put on the bones (usually due to a sudden increase in activity). Mostly, the second and third metatarsals are affected, as these bones have to bear maximum stress during walking and running.
These fractures are quite common in military recruits and are also called march fractures (extensive marching being the causative factor).
Athletes, runners, ballet dancers, postmenopausal women, people suffering from osteoporosis (reduced bone density) are all at risk of developing these fractures. However, a biomechanical imbalance such as over-pronation or oversupination may also contribute to the development of metatarsal stress fractures.