What is a Fifth Metatarsal Fracture?
Fifth metatarsal fractures are not uncommon. The metatarsals are the bones in the middle of the foot. The fifth metatarsal runs along the outside of the foot up to the pinky toe.
Two kinds of fractures in fifth metatarsal are:
- Avulsion fracture. An avulsion happens when a piece of the bone is pulled off by a tendon or ligament. An avulsion fracture is caused by an inversion injury, in which the ankle rolls inward. Avulsion fractures can be easily overlooked if they occur with an ankle sprain.
- Jones fracture. Jones fractures take place in a weak spot of the fifth metatarsal that has a poor blood supply. A Jones fracture can be either a stress fracture or an acute fracture. Jones fractures are caused by overuse, repetitive stress, or trauma. Jones fractures are not as common as avulsion fractures and they are more difficult to treat. Other types of fractures can take place in the fifth metatarsal. For example, a mid-shaft fracture, which usually results from trauma or twisting, and a fracture of the metatarsal head and neck.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
The symptoms are the same for Jones fractures and Avulsion fracture. Symptoms may include:
- Pain and sensitivity on the outside area of the foot
- Trouble walking
- Possibly bruising
How are the Fifth Metatarsal Fractures Diagnosed?
If you suspect you are suffering from a fifth metatarsal fracture, you should see your podiatrist as soon as you can for evaluation. It is important to have a proper diagnosis and get treatment promptly. When diagnosing your fracture, your podiatrist will get you to describe how the injury happened or when you started experiencing pain. Your podiatrist will do a foot exam and press softly on various parts of your foot to find out exactly where the pain is originating from. Your podiatrist will also perform x-rays. Jones fracture don't always show up on the first x-rays, so more imaging studies may be neccessary.
What is the Correct Treatment for Fractures?
If you can't see your podiatrist right away after the injury, follow the "R.I.C.E." method. The R.I.C.E. method includes:
- Rest. Stay off the injured foot and avoid activity. Walking and moving aound can cause more damage to the foot.
- Ice. You can apply a bag of ice over a thin towel to the affected area for 20 minutes of each waking hour to help reduce swelling and pain. Never apply the ice directly to your skin.
- Compression. You can help prevent more swelling from occurring by wrapping the foot in an elastic bandage or by wearing a compression stocking.
- Elevation. Elevate your foot to help reduce swelling as well. Keep the foot even with or slightly above hip level.
Treatment of an avulsion fracture may include:
- Immobilization. Treatment depends on how severe your injury is, but immobilization is always important. Your foot will be kept immobile using either a cast, a cast boot, or a stiff-soled shoe. You may also need crutches so you will not have to place any weight on the foot.
- Surgery. Surgery may necessary in some cases.
Treatment of a Jones fracture may include:
- Immobilization. Like with avulsion fractures, treatment for Jones fractures begins with immobilization. However, with a Jones fracture your foot usually must stay immobilized for a longer amount of time because Jones fractures take longer to heal.
- Bone stimulation. A painless external device can be utilized to speed up the healing process of some fractures.
- Surgery. Jones fractures oftentimes do not heal through immobilization and bone stimulation alone, so surgery may be necessary. If surgery becomes necessary, your podiatrist will determine the type of procedure that is best suited to you and your condition.