What is a Metatarsal Stress Fracture?
When excessive stress is placed upon the ball of the foot, a hairline fracture of one of the long metatarsal bones may occur. While this is more common in the second, third, or fourth metatarsal it can occur in any bone in the foot. Many times you may not be able to recall specific moment of occurrence because the injury is so subtle. These fractures were once referred to as “March fractures” because soldiers developed foot pain from fractures after extended periods of time marching. These stress fractures are common in athletes, overweight individuals, or in those with weakened bones such as osteoporosis.
How are Metatarsal Stress Fractures Diagnosed?
Your podiatrist will examine the foot for pain and swelling in the ball of the foot, which is most severe in the push off phase of walking. X-rays taken within the first two or three weeks after the injury may not reveal the injury but a bone scan may be more accurate. Your podiatrist will decide which tool to use but most diagnosis of these stress fractures can be made based on clinical findings making the bone scan or X-ray unnecessary. After several weeks your foot doctor may schedule an X-ray to find signs of new bone healing in the area of the diagnosed stress fracture.
How Do You Treat Metatarsal Stress Fractures?
Treatment for metatarsal stress fractures initially consists of rest, elevation, and ice. Sometimes a compression bandage is applied to help reduce the swelling. A post-operative type of shoe or cam-walker is used to prevent the patient from pushing off the ball of the foot in order to eliminate any additional stress while the bone is healing and sometimes a short leg-walking cast may be applied for a short period of time. Healing time ranges from 4 to 8 weeks and special attention should be paid to using well padded insoles or a functional orthotic in the shoes to reduce stress in the metatarsal area.
Metroplex Foot and Ankle is a progressive group of physicians and surgeons who are committed to helping our patients to achieve their full wellness potential. Contact our Dallas Podiatrist, Garland Podiatrist, or Richardson Podiatrist offices to schedule an appointment today.