Orthopaedics

Diagnosing and Treating a 5th Metatarsal Fracture

Although it is athletes and sports persons who are known to suffer mostly from a

5th metatarsal fracture

, there is every chance that most others are also prone to these fractures. It is thus, important to identify the symptoms associated with this fracture and get treated accordingly in order to avoid further damage to the foot.

Symptoms of a 5th Metatarsal Fracture:

Depending on the type of fracture (Avulsion, Jones or Stress), the symptoms would vary.

The symptoms associated with Avulsion and Jones fractures are usually the same. The symptoms are-

  • pain
  • foot tenderness
  • swelling
  • bruising (sometimes)

In case, it is a stress fracture-

  • gradual foot pain
  • pain in the middle or towards the front of the foot
  • increased pain during activities like walking
  • tenderness to touch
  • swelling

Diagnosis:

Any of the above symptoms and one is advised to see a doctor immediately for further clarification and treatment. The doctor would inquire as to how the injury happened. Firstly, a physical examination would be done by pressing the areas of the foot with hand to check for pain. Later, an X-ray would be required to confirm the fracture.

Jones fractures are often not revealed by X-rays, thus, other imaging techniques would be required to diagnose these fractures. In the case of stress fractures, X-rays would not be revealed until 2-3 weeks.

Non-Surgical Treatment:

Sometimes, these fractures may be overlooked (in case of Avulsion fractures). The RICE technique can be a good way to start addressing the pain and swelling issues.

 

Rest

 

. Like any other physical injury, the foot that has been affected has to be rested sufficiently. Walking with the damaged foot would only worsen the damage.

 

Ice.

 

Apply an ice pack on the damaged foot. Wrap a towel over the ice pack, so that the skin on top is not damaged.

 

Compression

 

. Wrap the injured foot with a surgical bandage to compress the swelling.

 

Elevation

 

. Keeping the foot elevated (at the level of the heart) while resting can alleviate the swelling.

A surgeon would make use of the following non-surgical techniques to heal the fracture-

Immobilisation:

In this techniques, surgeon would use a cast or stiff-soled shoes or a cast boot to keep the foot from moving. Also, this would make sure that no weight or stress is placed on the damaged foot.

Bone Stimulation:

Patients who do not respond to immobilisation would be treated using the bone stimulation technique. As a part of this technique, an external device would be used which would quicken the healing process of the fracture.

If any of the above techniques were to fail, the last resort to treat a

5th metatarsal fracture

would be a surgery which would be determined by the surgeon based on the patient.

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