Not all breaks and fractures are equal. Given that toe bones receive tremendous amounts of stress from the forces that accompany walking and running, plus are located in an area that is likely to be affected when someone drops something heavy, our Austin, TX podiatric practice treats many patients for metatarsal fracture injuries. These injuries range in levels of severity, and understanding the nature of your specific injury will dictate what you can expect with regard to treatment and recovery.
What Is a Metatarsal Fracture?
Each of your feet has 26 bones and five of those are metatarsals. These bones are the long ones that run across the midfoot, connecting the front and back. A fracture is simply another term that means break. There are two main categories when it comes to fractures:
- Traumatic fractures. This is an injury that happens when a bone is subjected to greater force in one moment than it can handle. Events that could cause this include seriously stubbing a toe, dropping a heavy item on your foot, or a baseball making contact at a high speed.
- Stress fractures. Unlike a traumatic fracture, this type does not happen from a single event. A stress fracture is a tiny, hairline crack that develops on account of repetitive stress. This is thought of as being an “overuse” injury and can often be seen in athletes who run great distances.
When it comes to the bones in your foot, not all are equally susceptible to injury. Your fifth metatarsal—the long bone that runs along the outside edge of your foot—is more apt to sustain damage than the other ones.
Symptoms of Fractures
Both traumatic and stress are types of fractures, but each has its own respective symptoms. Signs of a traumatic fracture include pain at the area of impact, abnormal or crooked appearance, bruising and swelling (often the following day), and perhaps even a sound at the time of the fracture.
One common stress fracture symptom is pain that mainly happens during activity, but then goes away with rest. Others include swelling (without bruising) and pain when touched. Unlike a traumatic break, the pain will have a more gradual onset, instead of instantly accompanying the injury.
Treatment for Metatarsal Fractures
Treatment should begin with contacting our office and scheduling an appointment. Our foot doctors can properly assess your situation to ensure that the correct care is given so that your bone can heal in a normal fashion. In the meantime, the best practice is to simply rest. Your body is amazingly adept at healing itself, but it needs time to do so. It also does not need extra stress and forces (like those that accompany running and other high-impact activities) that can lead to further damage. Ice, compression, and elevation can help to manage your pain, reduce swelling, and promote healing the injured bone.
Depending on the severity of your break, we may need to splint, “buddy tape,” cast, or prescribe stiff-soled, rigid shoes to immobilize the area and protect your foot. For certain cases, especially ones where a joint is impacted or the break has misaligned the bone from its natural position, surgery might be the best option. We will, of course, discuss your treatment options so you can understand the best choice for your recovery.
Are You Looking for a Stress Fracture Expert in Austin, TX?
If you are looking for stress fracture care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.
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