5th metatarsal mid shaft fracture..good news!

Posted , 16 users are following.

I thought I would just put a quick post re the experience of someone who has broken her 5th metatarsal, mid shaft, displaced although minimally, as a lot of the posts/articles on the internet seem to be very pessimistic and depressing. 

So..my story..skip the detail if you want but have written it all down.  I broke my 5th metarsal on 16 December, it is now 23 Febuary.  Someone came down on it very heavily in high heels and broke it, spiral fracture, slightly displaced.  I didn't realise it was broken at first, just thought it was swollen and bruised...and boy was it bruised!  Never seen anything like it! Anyway, did the usual, rest, elevation, compression and ice and kept hobbling about, using the opposite side of my foot to hobble round the house...after all it was Chrismas and I didn't have time to rest! Luckily could stay pretty much in the house so didn't do massive amount of walking...and couldn't get a shoe on anyway! Did mention it to a locum doctor on 23 Dec, but had gone about something else, and he dismissed it without looking at it, just telling me to RICE it..which I already was.

After a day or so, bruising still horrendous, I decided to see my usual doctor who referred me immediately to get it x-rayed.  This was on 28 Dec..and  the fracture showed up to my shock.  X ray technician metntioned going straight to A and E but then said all they would do is make me an appointment at the fracture clinic, which I may as well get from my doctor, when the information about my fracture had got to my doctore (and no, I couln't have the letter to hand in, it had to go by snail /Royal Mail)  I had started by now to use crutches...no weight bearing on bad foot at all.

A week later, as soon as I could (bank holidays delayed information getting to doctor and hence consultation) I saw my doctor who phoned the hospital after reading the letter to make me an urgent appointment with the consultant for the following Monday (this was Friday)

  I went and saw him and to my shock he was very, to me , pessimistic and not a little rushed.  Told me it was a nasty fracture, difficult to heal, and I might very likely end up having two operations, one to put pins and plates in and one to take them out.  Oh..and the plate would stick out of my (slim) foot and there was a high risk of infection etc as we were operating on bone.  However, he told me I could still go to work, drive (this was my clutch foot) as long as it wasn't for long (work is 10 minutes drive away) and elevated and rested foot at every opportunity....and it might be an idea if I used crutches and didn't put weight on it BUT he didn't put it in an air boot or cast. (which concerned me a little)

This I did, but no real improvement, in fact it got worse, swelling up, pins and needles in toes and very sore and swollen behind toes, on ball of foot.  Went back again to hospital, saw a different doctor, who told me I should be off work, not driving, moving as little as possible and keeping foot above heart level. For at least a MONTH!

So...I have done that.  Googled the injury to death, scaring myself and becoming depressed over what I have read.  Rested completely, didn't put any weight on it , crawled and used a pair of crutches at all times, slept with it elevated, sat with it elevated, compression bandage at times, rubbed comfrey oil on it twice a day , used epsom salt baths (used to lose the circulation and it also helped a little with swelling), tried to keep my leg muscled with scissor action exercise etc  Wore hiking/timberland boots (still doing this)  It was still sore and swollen however behind the toes, so much so I wondered if there was other damage, but have now realised this was a result of not using my foot on the floor at all.

NOW....9 weeks from when I first injured it, I have been told this week I can put a little weight on it and start to walk, even though the bone hasn't joined up AT ALL, no callus etc on the x-ray the consultant reckons there is fibre etc holding it and I am now ready to walk on it.  (I was prepared for there to be no sign of healing ..research on internet again!) It isn't sore to touch although aches a little (almost a burn) now I am walking on it..but I have read this can be a sign of healing.

  I am walking about with either one or no crutches,taking it very slowly,  but I cannot believe I am actually walking on it, I can stand on both feet in the shower etc.....I NEVER thought this would be the case after only 8 - 9 weeks after all I had read on the internet...and those weeks felt interminable!   I have broken bones in my foot before but have never been as disabled with it as with the 5th metarasal break, and never felt so depressed over an injury after googling it all.  So, I didn't have an air boot, nor a cast, which seems to have worked for me, although it was very hard work getting about on crutches or crawling  (calloused knees now!) and mentally , although I kept reminding myself it wasn't a life threatening condition, it still got me down at times as there didn't seem to be any improvement. 

In my experience, yes it has taken a long time to get better...and I am still not there by any means...haven't walked out of the house yet...but I feel I AM on th road to recovery, which is the main thing.  I won't be running (which I do) for quite a while I think, nor doing a lot of long distance walking but at least I am getting better.  After reading such a lot of depressing and pessimistic posts on this injury I felt I had to post a more optimistic one..and I hope at least some of you out there have just as good a recovery if you have fractured your 5th metatarsal.

4 likes, 19 replies

19 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi emma

    what a hard time you have had, but hopefully you can now see some light at the end of the tunnel... I am only starting out on my journey of a 5th metartarsal break and will keep posting up-dates of my progress, as it is so helpful to hear other peoples experiences, good or bad it is comforting; as you know you are not the only one... and after all it is onl  time...it will heal,, I feel grateful that I have two legs, one not so good at the moment, but imagine going through life with only one leg..!!!.. this keeps me going. wishing you a speedy recovery , getting back to running and long lovely walks.  

  • Posted

    Well, still optimistic but things are a little two steps forward and one back!.. For me recovery is still slow, partly perhaps because I was over optimistic and have rushed things.  After a week or so of weight bearing I over reached myself and walked a mile without my crutch, up the road to the nearest park, very slowly, and am also at work 3 days a week, although not quite on full days.  Starting to walk more but perhaps a little too mucha s my foot has become painful again and last night, quite swollen.  So, although I am recovering , as I keep reminding myself, it is unfortunately a lot more gradual than I had hoped and envisaged.  The worry for me is that I have damaged my bone as at my last hospital visit and x ray 4 weeks ago (8 weeks after injury) it still showed as broken and displaced but I was still told to weight bear...lets's hope I haven't displaced it any further!

    Have to say that unfortunately for me this is the worst break I have ever had..and I've had a few (as the line from the song goes!)  But again...not life threatening and will heal, as I keep reminding myself!  Good luck all of you out there, and don't be too scared by the internet stories...I got myself quite worked up at first over the pessimistic outcomes and stories, and the fact my treatment seemed to differ from everyone elses (no boot at all, no cast, just rest and elevate)

  • Posted

    Hello Emma,

      I broke my 3rd/4th/5th (Avulsion/Jones) Metatarsals in a road accident (Liability admitted by other party). Like you and so many others before and after, i have sought some comfort from forums and found little that helps. I found the Medical staff at the hospital very nice and professional, but hardly made me feel reassured. In the time off i have had to become an internet metatarsal fracture investigator, i have decided that the uncertainty by all, professionals included, is based upon the difficult nature of metatarsal fractures (fx) and the amount of factors involved in treatment ie type of fx, angle of fx, non-surgical, surgical, cast, no cast, boot, patients age, underlying medical issues, diet, bone stimulator, am i doing more damage, when will i be back to normal, should i take supplements etc etc has lead the professionals to be guarded, although completely understandable that people feel uninformed.

      I have evaluated the info i have read and it really seems to go back to basics, which so many things do...........REST it as much as possible, listen to the little bits of info the pro's give you and try not to read internet forums and have a little luck!!

      I am just into week 9, have had my 3M cast (Light) off for a week and am slowly walking in the boot, with the usual anxiety at the slightest tingle, still elevating and hoping luck is on my side. After weeks of suffering from mental torture, lots brought on by myself of course but understandable i think due to the unknown, i am beginning to see light at the end of the pretty dark tunnel..........but still a little reserved.

      To anyone who reads this, good luck if you are experiencing these issues, remember to do the basics and find something to fill in your time, there will be plenty of it. Hope your recovery is a good one.


    • Posted

      'john1234567 I totally agree with you...and rest is the basic cure.  If I overdo it and then rest my foot feels better and swelling goes down.  Like you, I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel but it does seem to be a longer tunnel than I envisaged but I am getting there, that's the main thing.  Hope you continue to recover and hopefully we will be walking normally in the next 6 months!
  • Posted

    now on the 4th week... I now take the boot off while sitting, and walk on the heel of boot ! I had a vert nasty accident on the crutches I stumbled and fell off my crutches and propelled  forward into the bathroom wall. Ambulance was called as my forehead had an enormous swelling!! fortunately not taken to hspital but I now look like elephant man!! and have a huge black eye. So I am taking it really easy,,,  I sleep with the boot but take the air out.... I sometimes take the boot off in bed for a half an hour when I wake ...Pure Bliss and I take it off for a bath my greatest time of the day good luck to you all 
    • Posted

        Yes the boot, loved by some and loathed by others. I was stopped in the High St just 2 days ago by someone who just walked toward me and started saying, 'Oh no, you're not in one of them are you?, poor you, i hated mine', this man fractured his tibia and fibula 1 year ago and couldn't get on with boot, we had a chat and he said 'good luck'. I like the boot so far, it gives me more freedom than i have had for a long time. I only inflate when out for a walk, indoors uninflated and with front panel off, and never found that sleeping in it would be beneficial for myself.

        Sounds like you had a bad fall, balancing is not the easiest thing with crutches, cast, boot or both or all. I initially hopped around the house and imagined winning a hopping competition, i was getting really good.

        Take it easy, patience is the key.

  • Posted


    I am now in the 9th week since I fractured my 5th metatarsal. I started with a walking boot and now can switch between a hard soled shoe. I have been seeing my primary care dr and she has been consulting sports medicine as well. My 2 X-rays since my initial one have shown little, if any improvement. Sports med said my type of fracture could take at least 4 months to heal. I'm beginning to feel discouraged and wondering if it would be wise to see an orthopedic surgeon for another opinion. My foot is feeling better so I also don't want my dr to think I don't trust them. Any thoughts?

    • Posted


      I'm coming up on 4 weeks since i broke my 2nd 3rd and 4th metatarsal, i was at my follow up appointment last Thursday and following an x-ray the doctor noticed more damage done and i still had quiet a bit of swelling.

      I was admitted and had a CT the following day, turns out i have also a lot of damage done to my mid foot including very badly sprained ligaments.

      One doctor told me i need surgery but the swelling is too bad and i have to stay in hospital, a few hours later i was told i could go home but have to have my foot elevated at all times and come back in this Thursday for another x-ray and see the foot specialist. Before i was let go home i was told i will be in a non weight bearing cast for 3 months.

      Im nearly afraid of what to expect on Thursdays x-ray


  • Posted

    WOW! I just suffed injury three weeks and 2 days ago, personally do not like medications nor hospitals, very bad anxiety. My incedent happened at 630am which they all woke to laugh at me. I am 45 about 180 5'6 very natural.... My pains was on levels child birth could not even compare to. I did not bruise or swell yet still knew it was not right so called ortho instead of hospital at 8am.  My anxiety made that choice, but my insurance does not need referal so that was best option for me. Everyone doubt anything but simple sprain. In office xray was done and with in an hour surgary was scheduled for Monday pre op had to be done on Friday. I got the plates screws and pins, but nothing sticking out. They replaced my bone because the damage was so bad. The only reason I got this surgery was it is life, bone fragments can create other health issues an concerns. I cried the whole weekend in real fear of this procedure. Heal over head was my life for two weeks, cast two weeks, and i can finlly stand to take a shower an short periods to do chores. I do wear the boot when mobile, i do not take meds and i would not change a thing, I am thankful i did not wait as i normally would do. The malpractice alone you have experianced is awful on top of the healing process. I am post op 19 days broken 23 days ago. Your risk get higher the longer you wait.

    • Posted

      Really? I'm on it! Heading to Podi or Ortho as soon as I can get it covered. Also mid 40's and need to be mobile for my job. I will choose not to drive and see a specialist first in order not to risk further injury. Thank you!!

  • Posted

    I'm learning! Thank you for sharing. Currently 5 hours away from home visiting friends in GA. Sprial fracture 5th metatorsal. Solo visit too! Unable to drive 5 hours home back to NC. Waiting for insurance approval to seek coverage out of state for podiatrist or othro. This really sucks!! Thank you for the post because I never look up info on internet like I did today but I felt so helpless!! 

  • Posted

    Hi Emma. I broke my foot 7 weeks back and was looking about for some information and stu,bled upon your post. Our stories and the treatment procedure are exactly the same. Wanted to know how your foot is now ? When did you go back to running ? My cast came out a week back  but the foot turned dark and is terribly swollen so am on a strict non weight bearing and elevation status. Would appreciate hearing how good your foot is now.
    • Posted

      Hi, I seem to be having a similar experience to you.  Am now at 11 week mark. Clinically seems to have healed, but xrays still show no callus and fracture line is present. 

      Has yours healed OK now? 

  • Posted

    Hi Emma,

    I have just hit week 11 of 5th metatarsal shaft oblique fracture. I have been walking around without to many symptoms (except for a bit of pain from being immobilised for a while). I was unable to wear moonboot all the time due to work so had hard soled shoe for at least a few hours a day. 

    Xrays still show no callus formation and fracture line still visible on xray, but it's not too sore to walk on. My Dr said same as yours that there is probably fibrous tissue holding it together, and that I should try jogging gently on it and see if it bothers me at all. He said it wouldn't be as strong as normal bone though. 

    I have been considering getting a bone simtulator?

    Did yours eventually heal? How long did it take? 

    Thanks in advance, this is driving me up the wall!


  • Posted

    Hi all, I’ve just been reading through your comments. I am day 3 into a spiral fracture of my fifth metatarsal. For the first 24hrs I was in a cast then when I went to fracture clinic they put me in a padded boot (I look like I have a robocop leg) I was given conflicting information as in a&e they said I wasn’t to weight bare but the consultant said with the boot I can weight bare as much as I can tolerate, which isn’t a lot!!! How long roughly were you all out of work? I am signed off for 6 weeks at mo. And when we’re you allowed to drive? My job is 30-45 minutes journey. Many thanks xxx

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