Your body employs a variety of bones shapes: long and thin, short and thick, curved, and simply unusual. Each plays a part in holding you upright, protecting internal tissues, or allowing you to move. As you might expect, the bones in your feet are especially important for your mobility. Even the small ones have roles. A break in any of these little bones, like a fifth metatarsal neck fracture, can still cause significant pain and make it very difficult to stand or walk.
A Broken Neck in the Foot?
In the forefoot you have five metatarsals. These long, narrow bones attach to your toes at the ball of the foot, and to your tarsals in the midfoot. Each one has four parts: the head, which is part of the toe joint; the neck, located immediately below the head; the shaft, which makes up the long middle; and the base, which attaches to the tarsals in the midfoot. When you fracture one of these, the break is classified and named by where it’s located on the bone. Thus a metatarsal neck fracture is a break near the ball of the foot, below the toe joint.
All of the metatarsals help support your body weight and create a platform for your foot to push off the ground, but the first and the fifth—connected to the big and pinky toes, respectively—are particularly important. They bear a lot of the force of your steps and help you balance. The fifth also has important tendons attached to it that allow the foot to rotate outward. A fifth metatarsal neck fracture seriously weakens the outside of the foot.
Like any broken bone, this is usually a traumatic injury. An accident occurs, like dropping a heavy object on your foot or tripping suddenly. The sharp increase in force causes the bone tissue to crack. The pain is immediate and will make it challenging and uncomfortable to walk. If the bone displaces, your mobility may be significantly impaired. After the injury happens, the foot swells and will most likely bruise. You’ll need to have it examined and treated right away to prevent the damage from worsening and causing complications in the foot.
Repairing the Bone
The physicians at Country Foot Care will need X-rays or other diagnostic images to get a clearer picture of the damage done to your lower limb. The extent of the fifth metatarsal neck fracture determines the remedy. A simple break can be treated conservatively. A displaced fracture will most likely need surgery to correct the bone alignment and keep the pieces in place.
Your foot will need to be immobilized as it heals, so you will need to wear a cast or walking boot for several weeks. You may need to take anti-inflammatory pain medications to help with the discomfort. Once the bone has repaired enough, you’ll be able to use the foot normally again, though you will most likely need to recondition your foot to handle your activities. Even once the cast is off, it still takes time for the foot to fully recover.
Even the small bones in your feet have important roles in your mobility and comfort. When you develop an injury like a fifth metatarsal neck fracture, you realize just how important those small bones can be. Don’t neglect a possible break in your foot. Take care of your lower limbs and avoid the chronic pain and weakness that can result from not allowing a cracked bone to heal correctly. Appointments can be made by calling our offices directly to speak with our staff or by using our online REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT form at the top of this page.