The foot has five metatarsal bones, with the fifth one on the outside of the foot. The top end of the fifth metatarsal is where the little toe starts.
The most common type of break is at the base of this bone, and is often caused by the foot twisting or rolling inwards.
The foot will be painful, although you may still be able to walk with a limp. It may swell up, with a bruise appearing on the outside of the foot. It is worth getting assessed as soon as possible to make sure that there is no other injury, such as a lateral ankle sprain or a Lisfranc injury.
A medical examination and discussion of your symptoms is usually backed up by X-rays to confirm the fracture.
Treatment depends on the exact fracture. The majority of fractures are treated by wearing a walking boot and using crutches to keep weight off the foot but, in some cases, you may be offered surgery to speed up your recovery.
Following treatment, it may take eight to 12 weeks for the bone fracture to fully heal, with a gradual return to normal activity within four months.
Over 90% of fifth metatarsal fractures heal without any problems, and you will be able to return to your usual sports activities. However, in some fractures a potential problem is ‘non-union’, where the bones don’t heal properly, causing long-term discomfort.
Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.