Dancer’s Fracture

dancer foot photo

Fifth Metatarsal Fractures: What You Need to Know

The fifth metatarsal sits along the outside of your foot and connects to your littlest toe. On account of its position, it is the most common metatarsal to fracture. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent fifth metatarsal fractures on account of how each break happens. Often, it’s a single misstep that causes the breakage and sends you to your doctor.

Types of Fifth Metatarsal Fractures

The fifth metatarsal has three regions, and each region can have a break occur. A medical professional should evaluate each on account of the blood vessels in the area and potential long-term effects. Where the fifth metatarsal fracture is determines how your doctor will treat the injury.

Fifth metatarsal fractures occurring in zone 1 of the bone are called pseudo-Jones fractures. These injuries occur when pressure is applied to your foot while it is extended away from your body. This event may happen when you do not land a jump correctly for example.

Zone 2 fifth metatarsal fractures are called Jones fractures. These injuries happen when significant force is applied to the foot without the stabilizing effect of a planted heel. For example, if you’re running fast and suddenly change direction, you may end up with this fracture. These fifth metatarsal fractures have a risk of not healing correctly because the bones along the split may separate.

Fifth metatarsal fractures in zone 3 are a repetitive injury. For these to occur, your foot must experience chronic and repeated microtrauma. For example, you may continue to take part in your softball league even after your foot has hurt for the last two months when you walk. Since this zone is repetitive, there is a chance that the trauma will have been too significant for the bones to heal back together without medical intervention.

Dancer’s fractures are also fifth metatarsal injuries. These injuries are long, spiral fractures along the far side of the metatarsal. These can also be the result of landing a jump wrong, or of rolling over one of your feet.

Symptoms of a Fifth Metatarsal Fracture

The most obvious sign you may have a fifth metatarsal fracture is pain near your toes when you put weight on your foot. This pain may get worse the longer it has been going on. It may also be hard to move your foot in certain directions. Additionally, the area at the base of your pinky toe may be swollen or tender. A doctor will often prescribe a short x-ray series to confirm the fracture before starting treatment.

General Treatment

Each zone injury requires a slightly different treatment plan, on which your doctor will advise you. In general, once your doctor confirms that you have a fifth metatarsal fracture, they will have your foot immobilized by boot, cast, or other means. Then your foot will be placed in some form of protected or limited weight-bearing state for however long your doctor believes necessary. Your doctor may prescribe further x-rays to check how well your bones are healing. If the x-rays show your bones are not healing back together, your doctor may discuss surgical options. Even if you do not need surgery, you may require physical therapy following longer immobilizations.

This article is not a substitute for trained medical personnel. If you suspect you have a fifth metatarsal fracture or other injuries, please contact us.