There are 5 metatarsal bones in your foot and they are some of the most frequently broken bones in your foot.

What is a metatarsal fracture?

When one of your metatarsal bones in your foot is broken, this is referred to as a metatarsal fracture.

There are two types of metatarsal fracture:

  • Acute fractures (due to injury)
  • Stress fractures (due to overuse injury)

What causes a metatarsal fracture?

Acute metatarsal fracture:
Acute metatarsal fractures are often caused due to a direct foot injury such as somebody kicking or stepping on your foot. Twisting your ankle or foot can cause a fracture at the base of the fifth metatarsal as the injury can pull on a ligament that attaches to the fifth metatarsal pulling off a piece of bone with it.

Stress fracture:
Stress fractures tend to occur due to overuse such as in the military where somebody is marching for a long period of time. They can occur due to getting new footwear, not enough rest or by carrying on with exercise though there is foot pain. They can also occur in people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis or people who have poor foot sensation such as diabetes.

What are the symptoms of a metatarsal fracture?

There are a few different symptoms of a metatarsal fracture:

  • Pain or tenderness around the area of the fracture which may initially start during exercise and get progressively worse (stress fracture) or come on instantly following trauma (acute fracture)
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Problems weight bearing through the affected foot

How is a metatarsal fracture diagnosed?

An X-ray can diagnose a metatarsal fracture and sometimes an MRI or CT scan may be needed to see the extent of damage to surrounding tissues.

Stress fractures can be difficult to diagnose with an X-ray and a bone scan may be required.

Some fractures need some support to assist with heling such as a dressing with a rigid and supportive shoe. Other fractures may require a cast to immobilise the joint and allow healing and more severe cases may require surgery.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for a metatarsal fracture?

Depending on your type of fracture or whether or not you have required casting or surgery, your physiotherapy treatment will be different. Following assessment your physiotherapist will create a treatment plan for you.

Treatment plan can include:

  • Soft tissue massage
  • Electrotherapy
  • Taping or bracing
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Walking aid education such as using crutches
  • Advice and education
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Advice regarding activity modification
  • Graded return to functional/sporting activity
  • Preventative exercises

Benefit of physiotherapy for a metatarsal fracture?

Physiotherapy for a metatarsal fracture can be very effective and aims to get you back to your best as quickly as possible.

Physiotherapy causes:

  • Decreased pain
  • Enhanced recovery
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increased strength
  • Prevention of re-injury
  • Quick return to functional/sporting activities

If you would like to book an assessment or enquire further, please call 01245 830280 or e-mail: