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Merck Manual

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Quick Facts

Broken Metatarsal

(Broken Foot; Foot Fracture)


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Feb 2021| Content last modified Feb 2021
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What are metatarsal fractures?

Your metatarsals are a group of 5 long bones in the middle of your foot. They connect the back part of your foot to your toes. A metatarsal fracture is a break in one of these bones. All broken bones are considered fractures. For more information, see Overview of Broken Bones.

What causes a metatarsal to break?

A metatarsal fracture can happen because of:

  • Twisting your foot

  • A hard force (such as something heavy hitting your foot)

  • Repeated, small stresses (such as walking long distances)—this is called a stress fracture

What are stress fractures of the metatarsals?

Stress fractures are small cracks in a bone caused by overuse. They often occur in metatarsal bones.

  • Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone, not complete breaks

  • They're usually caused by lots of walking or running

  • You'll have pain and tenderness, especially when your weight is on your foot

  • Doctors can tell if you have stress fractures from x-rays (though it sometimes takes a few weeks for them to be visible on an x-ray) or CT scans or MRI

  • You'll use crutches and rest your foot while it heals

What Is a Stress Fracture?

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone caused by repeated impact.

What Is a Stress Fracture?

What is a Lisfranc fracture-dislocation?

A Lisfranc fracture-dislocation is a specific type of metatarsal fracture.

  • It happens to the 2nd metatarsal bone (a bone connects the back of your foot to your 2nd toe)

  • It's caused by falling on a twisted foot, or something hitting your foot hard

  • Football players, motorcyclists, and horseback riders are most likely to get Lisfranc fracture-dislocations

  • You'll have pain in your foot and sometimes bruising on the bottom of the foot

  • Doctors do x-rays or CT scans

  • Doctors do surgery to put the bones back in place

Lisfranc fracture-dislocation is serious and may cause pain and arthritis. You may have to stop playing certain sports even after it heals.

Lisfranc Fracture-Dislocation

The 2nd metatarsal is broken near the base and the broken pieces are separated from each other (dislocated). This injury is called a Lisfranc fracture-dislocation.

Lisfranc Fracture-Dislocation

What are fractures of the 5th metatarsal bone?

The 5th metatarsal bone is a long bone that connects the back of your foot to your little toe. A fracture of the 5th metatarsal bone is a break in this bone.

  • It's one of the most common foot fractures

  • The fracture can be near the ankle (base) or in the middle of the bone (shaft)

  • It can happen because of stress (overuse) or a single injury

  • You may have pain in the outside edge of your foot

  • Doctors tell if you have a fracture by taking x-rays

  • You need crutches, and hard protective shoes or a special boot

  • Rarely, you'll nee a cast or surgery

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