Get Back on Your Toes After a Dancer’s Fracture

Rotating or twisting an ankle or foot or incurring a crush injury by dropping a heavy object on the foot may cause a fracture of the fifth metatarsal, a bone at the base of the small toe. This injury, also known as dancer’s fracture, is similar to a sprained ankle in that it can make walking difficult, will cause some localized pain and swelling, and the skin can turn black and blue. However, the good news is that, with proper treatment and therapy, an individual with a dancer’s fracture can start bearing weight on the injured foot fairly quickly.

Treatment usually does not involve surgery, particularly if you can move the injured foot to the outside.

  • For the first few weeks, your mobility will be limited.
  • Once the swelling starts to subside, you will use a walking boot.
  • After six weeks, the bone may be healed to the point where you will be able to walk in a stiff-soled protective walking shoe with plenty of padding. You will probably use crutches too.

Recovery can be frustrating at times. In some instances, patients continue to feel symptoms more than eight weeks after their injury, but those occasions are rare. It often takes 12 or more weeks for a full recovery to occur for most patients, dancer’s fracture can be treated with exercises, which strengthen and balance your muscles and help you gain the motion and strength necessary to bear weight and walk. You don’t have to be a dancer to suffer a dancer’s fracture. But if you do, we can develop a program that supports your safe and complete recovery, while pushing you enough to help you regain mobility. With our assistance, you can return to pain-free dancing, sports or daily activities as soon as possible.

The Jackson Clinics has several Physical Therapists experienced in treating these types of injuries, including Deborah Gilpin, PT, MPT, OCS, ATC, who has worked as an athletic trainer in Division I college athletics and has expertise in treating dancers, skaters and gymnasts.

Did you know you have Direct Access* to Physical Therapy? No referral, no problem!

*Some restrictions apply.