The metatarsal bones are the long bones in your foot that connect your ankle to your toes. A stress fracture is a break in the bone that happens with repeated injury or stress. Stress fractures are caused by using the foot in the same way over and over.
A stress fracture is different from an acute fracture, which is caused by a sudden and traumatic injury.
Stress fractures are common in people who:
Early signs of a metatarsal stress fracture are pain:
Over time, the pain will be:
The area of your foot where the fracture is may be tender when you touch it. It may also be swollen.
An x-ray may not show there is a stress fracture for up to 6 weeks after the fracture occurred. Your health care provider may order a bone scan or MRI to help diagnose it.
You may wear a special shoe to support your foot. If your pain is severe, you may have a cast below your knee.
It may take 4 - 12 weeks for your foot to heal.
It is important to rest your foot.
For pain, you can take a type of medicine called NSAIDs. You do not need a prescription for these.
As you recover, your health care provider will check how well your foot is healing. He or she will tell you when you can stop using crutches or have your cast removed and start the activity again.
You can return to normal activity when you can do the activity without pain.
When you restart an activity after a stress fracture, build up slowly. If your foot begins to hurt, stop and rest.
Call your health care provider if you have pain that does not go away or gets worse.
Broken foot bone; March fracture; March foot; Jone’s fracture
Choi L. Stress fractures. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr., Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2009.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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