Metatarsal fracture (acute) - aftercare

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Alternate Names

Broken foot-metatarsal; Jones fracture; Dancer’s fracture; Foot fracture

What Is a Metatarsal Fracture?

The metatarsal bones are the long bones in your foot that connect your ankle to your toes. They also help you balance when you stand and walk.

A sudden blow or severe twist of your foot, or overuse, can cause a break or acute (sudden) fracture in one of the bones.

More about Your Injury

There are five metatarsal bones in your foot. The 5thmetatarsal is the outer bone that connects to your little toe. It is the most commonly fractured metatarsal bone.

A break in the part of your 5thmetatarsal bone closest to the foot is called a Jones fracture. This area of the bone has low blood flow. This makes healing difficult.

An avulsion fracture occurs when a tendon pulls a piece of bone away from the rest of the bone. An avulsion fracture on the 5thmetatarsal bone is called a “dancer’s fracture.”

What to Expect

If your bones are still aligned (meaning that the broken ends meet), you will probably wear a cast or splint for 6 - 8 weeks.

  • You may be told not to put weight on your foot. You will need crutches or other support to help you get around.
  • You may also be fitted for a special shoe or boot that may allow you to bear weight.

If the bones are not aligned, you will need surgery. A bone doctor (orthopedic surgeon) will do your surgery. After surgery you will wear a cast for 6 - 8 weeks.

Relieving Your Symptoms

You can decrease swelling by

  • Resting and not putting weight on your foot
  • Elevating your foot

Make an ice pack by putting ice in a zip lock plastic bag and wrapping a cloth around it.

  • Do no put the bag of ice directly on your skin. It could damage your skin.
  • Ice your foot for about 20 minutes every hour while awake for the first 48 hrs, then 2 - 3 times a day.

For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, and others).

  • Do not use these medications for the first 24 hours after your injury. They may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Talk with your health care provider before using these medicines if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, or have had stomach ulcers or internal bleeding in the past.
  • Do not take more than the amount recommended on the bottle or more than your health care provider tells you to take.


As you recover, you will be asked to begin moving your foot. This may be as soon as 3 weeks or as long 8 weeks after your injury.

When you restart an activity after a fracture, build up slowly. If your foot begins to hurt, stop and rest.

Some exercises you can do to help increase your foot mobility and strength are:

  • Write the alphabet in the air or on the floor with your toes.
  • Point your toes up and down, then spread them out and curl them up. Hold each position for a few seconds.
  • Put a cloth on the floor. Use your toes to slowly pull the cloth toward you while you keep your heel on the floor.


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, have your cast removed, and start doing your normal activities again.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Swelling , pain, numbness, or tingling in your leg, ankle, or foot that becomes worse
  • Your leg or foot turns purple
  • Fever


Brodsky JW, Bruck, N. Foot and Ankle. In: DeLee JC. ed. DeLee and Drez’s Orthopedic Sports Medicine. 3rded. Philadelphia, Pa. Saunders Elsevier, 2009. Chap 25.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 7/4/2012
  • Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewe by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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