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Metatarsal stress fracture

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Metatarsal bones are a group of five long bones in the foot extending from its hind till the toes. Stress fracture in these bones result from sudden injury resulting in pain and restricted movement. We shall explain the topic in details...

Symptoms of metatarsal stress fracture

Pain in feet is the first symptom of fracture. You will experience the pain gradually, especially in your mid or front foot while trying to perform some activity with your foot like bearing weight, walking, trying to put on shoes, etc. The pain tends to increase which restricts normal activity and movement.
Considerable swelling and tenderness in and around the ankle is also experienced.

What causes stress fracture in metatarsal?

Stress fracture means an injury to the bone under the effect of extreme pressure. This usually happens due to overuse of the metatarsal bones.

  • Overuse injury from heavy impact exercises with limited rest.
  • Overpronation as a result of which the shock from foot doesn’t spread evenly
  • Poor movement of the foot – problem with biomechanics
  • Too much walking, running, dancing without resting – tired feet
  • Mechanical stress or pressure due to accidental fall, lifting abnormal weights on feet, etc.

As a matter of fact, athletes, hockey players, dancers, etc. are vulnerable to metatarsal stress fracture. People who do not exercise and have osteoporosis can also have stress fracture. Their bones become weak which tend to get fractured under impact of slightest stress also.

Diagnosis of metatarsal stress fracture

You doctor will first evaluate the symptoms by physically feeling your feet and ankle. You need to explain your doctor the risk factors that might have induced the fracture in your metatarsal bones.

Your doctor will also check your medical history of any bone disease.

You have to undergo an X ray of the concerned portion of your feet, ankle and toes. Usually, intricate fractures do not get detected in x rays so your doctor will recommend a bone scan or MRI test.

Treatment of metatarsal stress fracture

The treatment is absolutely dependent on the severity of the fracture.

Your doctor would not consider performing surgery if the fracture can be healed with non surgical treatment options. They are:

Rest:  The vital most thing is rest. Leave your activities aside; take break from your office and rest. Keep your injured foot slightly elevated whenever you rest. A pillow serves this purpose. Elevation ensures that there’s proper blood circulation in your feet and legs.

Cast and crutches: Casts are external support that would save your feet from external stress. You have to wear the cast until the fracture heals. Additionally, use a crutch when you move or try to walk.

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Pain killers: OTC pain killers would be given to you to manage pain, swelling and inflammation.

If the aforementioned treatment options fail to heal the fracture then your doctor might consider operating on your metatarsals. The bones are delicate and so the surgery is so intricate which involves use of fastener, screws or pins to hold the bones together.

What to do at home?

RICE:  “Rest, ice, compress and elevation” is the first aid for fractures. Taking compress with ice bag reduces pain and swelling

Do not put further stress on your feet, toes or ankles until you recover from the fracture completely.

You can ask your doctor about some physiotherapy exercises. Perform them at home with your doctor’s advice

Be careful while moving around house. If required ask your family member to help you moving or reaching the washroom, etc.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 07, 2015