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Metatarsal Stress Fractures

Metatarsal Stress Fractures

Another springtime injury that I'm sure we'll start to see a lot of are metatarsal stress fractures.  The metatarsal bones are the long bones that extend from the mid-arch to the ball of the foot.  Ideally, the five metatarsal bones share load applied to the forefoot.  In cases where one metatarsal bone carries increased load, the bone fails to successfully carry that load and undergoes a stress reaction.  This stress reaction results in a small crack in the metatarsal bone.  Read our knowledge base article on metatarsal stress fractures for a detailed description of the condition.

Metatarsal Stress Fractures - treatment

Treatment of metatarsal stress fractures includes rest, splinting and compression.  Rest can be many things and should be dictated by how your foot feels.  For instance, rest doesn't have to be completely non-weight bearing or in a non-weight bearing hard cast.  Rest could simply be a decrease in your normal daily activities.  Simply put, if it hurts, you should back away from that activity.  And if it feels ok, go for it.

Metatarsal Stress Fractures - products for treatment

Splinting of the fracture can be accomplished in a number of ways.  Walking casts and fracture shoes are commonly prescribed by doctors but in many instances, you can avoid their use by wearing a stiff-soled shoe.  Any shoe with a rigid shank and rocker sole will help to off-load a metatarsal stress fracture.  Clogs and men's wingtip shoes are just two examples of shoes that have a very rigid Forefoot Compression Sleeveshank and forefoot rocker.  For softer shoes, you can stiffen the shank with a glass fiber shoe plate or spring plate.

Compression of the forefoot can help control swelling and stabilize any movement of the metatarsal stress fracture.  Compression helps to decrease pain by stabilizing the metatarsal stress fracture.  The Forefoot Compression SleeveArch Binder and the Arch Binder are two examples of ways the forefoot can be compressed and stabilized.

As you get active this spring, start with a dose of common sense and a little prevention.  Metatarsal stress fractures are often seen in the onset of new activities like running or biking.  Be sure to start slowly, building up your endurance and strength over time.  And be sure to wear the right shoes for the right activity.


Dr. Jeffrey Oster
Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM

Medical Advisor

Updated 12/26/19

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