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Metatarsal Fractures

I was running last week, twisted my foot and felt a "pop." The pain is not going away so I came into the office. "What took you so long?"Metatarsal fractures can be this obvious, or can be as subtle as pain in your forefoot or the ball of your foot that has been present for weeks. Patients who have abnormal biomechanics, are older, and have osteopenia or osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones) are more susceptible to fractures.

Yes, it is possible you have been walking around on a broken bone for weeks. And, some times, stress fractures don’t show up on x-ray for up to 2 weeks after the injury. So, even if you went to the doctor, if your pain is not going away, your "sprain" needs to be x-rayed again!

Traumatic fractures are usually from a fall, a direct blow, or twisting injury. These can be serious and need to be x-rayed immediately. Non-displaced fractures (those in proper alignment) are usually treated with rest and casting. Displaced fracture (those that have moved into another position or dislocated) often need surgery. Surgery can entail a "closed-reduction" which is making the foot numb and popping the bone or joint back into place or in most cases "open reduction with internal fixation" which means surgically manipulating the fracture back into place then securing it with a pin, wire or screw. No matter what the treatment, fractures usually take at least 8 weeks to heal.

Stress fractures are much more subtle and are often from a chronic repetitive stress on the area or a more subtle traumatic injury. These are "hairline fractures" of the bone that can progress to a displaced fracture if not treated. Symptoms include pin-point pain on the bone when pressed, swelling but no bruising, and often pain with activity that goes away with rest.

Why should you treat a fracture? Chronic pain and long-term dysfunction, progressive arthritis, and chronic deformity. Broken bones improperly treated can lead to all kinds of biomechnical problems. A broken metatarsal is like have a bald spot on your tire…the rest of the foot suffers!

If you think you have a fracture, call or contact the office immediately. The faster you are diagnosed, the faster you will get back to normal activity. Do not ignore your symptoms!