Perhaps you stubbed your toe or incurred a foot injury while participating in sports. Your doctor has called it a fifth metatarsal avulsion fracture, but you are unsure what is meant by that term. A fracture is a break in the bone, and your fifth metatarsal is the long midfoot bone on the side of your “pinky” toe. Of all the bones in the foot, this is the one most commonly fractured. Three fracture types strike the fifth metatarsal most often:
- A Jones fracture usually affects athletes and occurs in a particular spot that receives limited blood supply.
- A stress fracture results from repeated impact to a specific area, causing a hairline break to develop over a relatively long time.
- An avulsion fracture,sometimes called a dancer’s fracture, happens when an attached ligament or tendon pulls off a small piece of the bone near the base of the metatarsal.
Treated properly and promptly, most metatarsal fractures will heal well. Treatment of your fifth metatarsalavulsion fracture begins with ascertaining if you can still evert your foot (turn it outward and roll it toward the pinky toe side). If you can, you have not suffered bone displacement, meaning the fracture can most likely be managed conservatively, without surgery.
First, we reduce pain and swelling with ice and anti-inflammatory medication. Then you will wear a therapeutic immobilizing boot for about six weeks, followed by a series of rehabilitation exercises we design to rebuild your foot’s strength and range of motion. An exercise program can make the difference between future proper foot function and possible long-term complications, such as chronic pain, malunion (improper healing of the fracture) and instability. Such exercises may include
- gentle stretching,such as “drawing” the alphabet with your big toe, for range of motion
- towel curls, in which you sit in a chair, with your heel on the ground, and use only your toes to reach for a towel just in front of you
For any serious injury to your foot, see us right away to begin treatment promptly. With our help, you can get back on your feet and back to the activities you love.