5th Metatarsal Fractures

Fractures are common in the fifth metatarsal and normally occur with sporting activities. The metatarsal bones are a group of 5 long bones in the foot. The fifth metatarsal is located on the little toe side (lateral side) of the foot and connects to the little toe. Strong ligaments attach the base of the fifth metatarsal to the cuboid bone and the fourth metatarsal bone. It is easier for an individual to fracture the fifth metatarsal than to dislocate it. This is because of these strong ligament attachments.

5th Metatarsal Fractures

Types Of Fractures In The Fifth Metatarsal

A fifth metatarsal fracture can occur in several ways and break in several places. There are 2 types that often occur in the fifth metatarsal:

  • Avulsion fracture
  • Jones fracture

An x-ray showing a break in the bone isused to diagnose a fifth metatarsal fracture. Because a Jones fracture may not show up on initial x-rays, additional imaging studies may be required.

Avulsion Fracture

A small piece of bone is pulled off the main portion of the bone by a tendon or ligament. This can occur after forced inversion or rolling in of the foot and ankle. Patient with an avulsion fracture experiences tenderness at the base of the fifth metatarsal. There is often bruising and swelling at the site.

Treatment of non-displaced avulsion fractures is conservative. Options include elastic bandaging, low-profile walking boots or casts for 4 to 6 weeks. Weight-bearing is allowed as tolerated.

Displaced avulsion fractures are best managed by either open reduction and internal fixation, or closed reduction and pinning.

Jones Fracture

It was first described by Sir Robert Jones when he fractured his fifth metatarsal in 1902 while dancing around a Maypole at a military garden party. Jones fracture is at the base of the fifth metatarsal at the metaphyseal-diaphyseal junction. It is located 1.5cm distal to the tuberosity of the 5th metatarsal. It is either be a stress fracture (a tiny hairline break that occurs over time) or an acute (sudden) break.

Patients normally present with sudden pain at the base of the fifth metatarsal, with difficulty bearing weight on the foot. Bruising and/ or swelling are often present at the site. The injury is described as a laterally directed force on the forefoot during plantar flexion of the ankle.

Jones fracture is a difficult fracture to heal due to limited blood supply to that area and often surgery is required. If surgery is not performed, then a short leg cast can be worn for 6 to eight weeks in nonweight-bearing with progressive ambulation after cast removal. It can take 8 to 10 weeks for this to heal and is not always predictable whether or not full healing will occur. Studies have shown about 70% heal with cast treatment.

Surgery For It

On the other hand, sugery for Jones fracture has about 95% success rate. Competitive athletes are treated surgically. Surgery may include placing an intramedullary screw into the bone’s shaft to stabilize the bone, and hold it securely in place while healing occurs. This internal fixation technique allows healing to occur quite rapidly. Walking with a removable boot is can happen within a few days after surgery. Bike exercise can commence at about four weeks. Patients may return to running approximately six weeks post-surgery.

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