Metatarsal Fracture

A metatarsal fracture is a break to one of the five long metatarsal bones in the foot and is usually caused by a direct impact or trauma. It could also be a stress fracture which comes on gradually from overuse. Seeking medical help is key to recovering from this foot injury to ensure the bones heal.


  • Acute and severe foot pain at the time of injury.
  • There will likely be rapid swelling.
  • The athlete may be unable to fully weight bear.
  • A visible deformity in the foot may be noticed.
  • Bruising will usually develop within 24 hours.


Metatarsals are the long bones in the forefoot. They are numbered 1 (Big Toe) up to 5 (Little Toe), one leading up to each toe and forming the metatarsophalangeal joints otherwise known as the MTP joints.


An acute fracture is caused by a direct impact such as having the foot trodden on by a football stud or similar. Alternatively, a violent twisting or turning motion at the ankle may cause a fracture in the 5th metatarsal in particular.

A stress fracture is caused by;

Overuse – Repetitive strain on the bone eventually results in a stress fracture.

Overpronation – where your foot rolls in too much, or flattens.

Oversupination – where your foot has a particularly high arch. This means it is rigid and does not pronate enough to absorb the forces from running.


A X-ray of the foot to confirm if there is a fracture and the type of fracture.

If the bones are not displaced then a short cast or boot will be fitted for the first three weeks.

After six weeks the foot should be X-rayed again to ensure it has healed.More complex or displaced fractures may require surgical fixation.

Once the cast has been removed, a thorough rehabilitation program should begin to regain full mobility and strength. A gradual return to sport can then begin.

Rehabilitation of a metatarsal fracture may begin at different stages, depending on whether it is an acute fracture or a stress fracture and also the extent and location of the injury.

Acute metatarsal fractures which require complete immobilization in a plaster cast will not begin rehabilitation until after the cast is removed.


Range of Movement


Balance (Proprioception)

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