Metatarsal Fractures: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Tips

Fractured Metatarsal Overview

If you are suffering from a painful fractured metatarsal injury and want to reduce your recovery time, you may be entitled to free private medical treatment. You could find out today if free treatment is available in your area that could significantly help during the recovery and rehabilitation period following your injury.

Metatarsal fractures are painful injuries to the foot that can occur at any age. Without adequate treatment and aftercare, metatarsal fractures can lead to long term pain and other symptoms. This detailed guide will help you learn about the causes, symptoms and treatment of metatarsal fractures and whether you may be eligible for private treatment to assist in your recovery from your injury. Depending on where you live in the UK, you may qualify for free medical help for your fractured metatarsal, including access to physiotherapy treatment, rehabilitation services and essential medical supplies.

Receiving the right treatment for a fractured metatarsal is crucial to making the best possible recovery. In this detailed guide, you can learn about the most common causes and symptoms of fractured metatarsal bones and how you can make the best possible recovery as you move forward from your injury.

To find out more about a fractured metatarsal and whether you would be entitled to any free private medical treatment and physiotherapy in your area, please click on the Select a Section below.

Select a Section

Fractured Metatarsal Definition

Metatarsals are a group of five tubular shaped bones found in the mid-foot. These bones are individually numbered, starting with the first metatarsal on the medial side (the same side as the big toe), which is the strongest bone in this group.

Located between the phalanges of your toes and tarsal bones, the metatarsal bones connect to your toe;s “knuckles” which are known as the metatarsophalangeal joints. The base of your metatarsals move with one or more of the tarsal bones where the tarsometatarsal joint is located.

Metatarsals are long bones which help shape the arch of the foot. Each metatarsal bone has a upward arching structure and consists of a base, shaft, head and neck. Working with connective tissues, tendons and ligaments, the metatarsals facilitate movement in the foot.

A fractured metatarsal is an injury that involves a break in one of the foot’s five long metatarsal bones, which are connected to the phalanges of the foot. Left untreated, this kind of fracture can cause severe pain, swelling and deformities in the affected foot.

Fractures of the metatarsal are typically caused by an acute injury such as a sudden trauma or impact to the foot. Stress fractures of the metatarsal can also develop gradually from overuse.

Treatment for a metatarsal fracture depends on the type of fracture, the extent of the injury and your general health.

Are There Different Types of Metatarsal Fractures?

As with most broken bone injuries, a fractured metatarsal can range in severity and complexity. The extent of the injury often determines what kind of fractured metatarsal treatment is required and how long the recovery period is likely to take. For example, if you are suffering from an open fracture in the metatarsal, where the fractured bone has penetrated your skin, you are likely to require an operation on your foot. You may also need surgery if your bones have become misaligned as a result of your injury.

How a fractured metatarsal injury takes place can also determine the severity of the break and which bone is injured. A stress fracture, for example, will not typically require as much treatment and rehabilitation as an acute fractured 5th metatarsal.

Fractured metatarsal

Fractured metatarsal

What Are the Symptoms of a Fractured Metatarsal?

Being aware of fractured metatarsal symptoms and the different kind of metatarsal fractures can help you to seek the right kind of help and aid your recovery from your injury.

Acute metatarsal fracture

Some of the most acute metatarsal fracture symptoms in a child and adult include:

  • An audible sound at the time of the injury followed by immediate pain and tenderness at the area of impact. This pain may lesson or subside a few hours after the injury
  • Swelling and/ or bruising around the injured area
  • Difficulty with putting weight or walking on the injured foot

You should seek urgent medical advice if you experience any of the above symptoms, even if you can still walk on your injured foot. Whether you can walk with a fractured metatarsal depends on many factors, such as what bone is fractured (such as a fractured 2nd metatarsal), the type and severity of the break (such as an acute or stress fracture) and your personal pain tolerance level. Putting pressure on your affected foot, however, could cause further damage to the injury. If you have a suspected fractured metatarsal, you should avoid walking until you have received a professional diagnosis and treatment plan.

Stress fractures

A stress fracture in the metatarsal can produce similar symptoms to an acute fractured metatarsal injury without the bruising or cracking sound.

Some of the most common signs of this kind of fracture include:

  • Widespread pain in the affected foot that occurs during exercise and subsides with rest
  • Pain that becomes continuous, during periods of rest as well as exercise
  • Pain that gradually becomes worse, producing a tender area where the stress fracture has occurred
  • A localised sore or tender area on the second or third metatarsal bone
  • Minor swelling around the injury
  • Increasing difficulty with walking or putting pressure on the affected foot

If you are suffering from a metatarsal stress fracture, you may be able to walk comfortably for some time. However, as the break worsens, and the bone starts to respond to the stress fracture, your injury will become gradually more painful, making it increasingly difficult to walk or bear weight on the affected foot. Without the correct care and treatment, a small metatarsal stress fracture can develop into a full and more severe fractured metatarsal.

Will the pain increase?

A stress fracture in the metatarsal can start as a minor injury with minimal symptoms and pain. Quite often, however, the small fracture progressively becomes wider and deeper as the bone becomes further stressed. As a result, the injury becomes more painful. Without the correct medical treatment and assistance, a minor stress fracture of the metatarsal may progress into a more serious metatarsal fracture.

If you have sustained an acute fractured metatarsal and the bone becomes further stressed, the broken ends of the fractured bone can begin to rub against each other, resulting in increased pain and inflammation. If the fracture is not properly treated, the fracture may also become displaced, which can lead to further pain in the affected area.

How is a Fractured Metatarsal Diagnosed?

If you have a suspected fractured metatarsal, your doctor is likely to arrange an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

Acute metatarsal fractures

Most acute fractured metatarsal injuries can be diagnosed with an x-ray, which can initially show the break in the bone and later any irregularities as the fracture starts to heal. If your doctor suspects a more severe or complex fracture of the metatarsal, a computerised tomography (CT) scanning or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be required to assess the extent of your injury.

During the diagnostic process, your doctor will need to determine whether the fracture is displaced and if any of the broken bones need re-aligning. This is a quite a common complication in acute fractured metatarsal injuries, as the weight of the body often pushes down on the fractured bone, pulling the two broken bone ends apart.

Stress fractures

Stress fractures in the metatarsals occur due to chronic (long term) overuse, abnormal weight transfer or repetitive activities such as running, walking or jumping. Sometimes, this kind of metatarsal stress fracture can be caused by abnormalities in the biomechanics in the foot. Since most metatarsal stress fractures are caused by repetitive impacts to the foot’s bones, symptoms tend to worsen overtime and evidence of the fracture is not always immediately apparent on a metatarsal stress fracture x-ray.

Most metatarsal stress fractures occur as fractured 2nd metatarsal and fractured third metatarsal injuries. These bones are usually thinner and longer than the first metatarsals and withhold the greatest amount of pressure when you walk and run.

If you have a suspected stress fracture in the metatarsal bone, your doctor may discuss your general health and medical history, including your diet and your activity level. If you have suffered a metatarsal stress fracture before, you may be required to undergo blood tests to check for calcium or Vitamin D deficiencies.

As part of the diagnostic procedure, your doctor will examine your injured foot and look for any areas of pain or tenderness by gently applying pressure to the suspected broken bone. Depending on the findings of your medical examination, you may also require imaging tests such as an x-ray, bone scan or an MRI scan.

Metatarsal stress fractures often start as small cracks or slits in the bone which only appear on 50% of initial x-rays. If your doctor suspects a metatarsal stress fracture which is not visible on an x-ray, you be referred for more extensive imaging tests, such as an MRI or bone scan to diagnose the injury.

How is a Fractured Metatarsal Treated?

The fractured metatarsal treatment you receive will depend on several factors including:

  • Which metatarsal is fractured
  • Which part of the metatarsal is fractured
  • The severity of the fractured metatarsal
  • The type of fracture (acute or stress)
  • Whether the fractured metatarsal is displaced
  • Whether the injury is an open fracture

After assessing your injury, your doctor will decide on what course of fractured metatarsal treatment is best for you. For example, the treatment needed for a fractured 5th metatarsal may be different to the treatment required for a fractured 2nd metatarsal. In most cases, the basic procedure for treating metatarsal fractures often consists of the following:


Following a fractured metatarsal injury, your doctor is likely to advise you to take painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol to help alleviate discomfort.


Applying ice to a fractured metatarsal can help to relieve pain and reduce any inflammation and bruising from your injury. You can apply ice treatment to the affected foot for 10-30 minutes directly after the injury has occurred. (Less than 10 minutes of ice treatment will have little benefit to the injury. More than 30 minutes can cause damage to the skin). Your doctor may advise you to continue using ice treatment for your fractured metatarsal at home for the first 48 -72 hours following your injury.

You can make an effective ice pack by getting a packet of frozen peas or cubes of ice and wrapping it in a piece of material, such as a towel or cloth. and placing it gently on the injured area of your foot. You should avoid placing ice on your skin without the use of a piece of material or a plastic bag.

Ice treatment can help a fractured metatarsal injury by providing an analgesic effect to help reduce pain and by increasing blood flow to the injured area.


Rest and elevation are sometimes the only treatment required for some fractures of the metatarsal bone. Keeping your injured foot elevated at hip level when you are sat down or placing it on a pillow when you are bed will help to limit and reduce inflammation and swelling.

Stop stressing the foot

If your doctor has diagnosed a stress fracture, it is important to avoid the repetitive stress activity that caused the fracture. Depending on how the stress fracture occurred, you may be advised to use a wheelchair or crutches to allow your injured foot adequate time to heal. Your doctor will advise you when and how you can start progressively walking and bearing weight on your injured foot again.


Some fractures of the metatarsal bone require extra support to assist with the healing process. Following a fractured metatarsal diagnosis, your doctor may recommend that you wear a fractured metatarsal boot along with an elastic bandage to protect your broken bone as it heals. If the fracture is severe, you may be fitted with a below-the-knee cast or a metatarsal fracture splint to further immobilise your injured foot. Your doctor will advise you of how much weight is safe to bear on your fracture during the recovery process.


While surgery is not needed for stress fractures in the metatarsal bone, you may need to undergo an operation if you have suffered an acute fracture and any parts of the fractured bones are badly displaced.

Follow-up care

Fractured metatarsal recovery time very often depends on how well you look after your foot following your injury. Your doctor will offer advice on how you can care for your injury at home following your initial treatment. This may include physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises.

Could I Qualify for Free Private Medical Treatment for a Fractured Metatarsal?

Whatever type of fractured metatarsal you have sustained, you may be entitled to free private medical treatment to help you recover and rehabilitate following your injury.

There are many free fractured metatarsal treatments available in the UK that may be able to help speed up and make the recovery process more comfortable. Depending on which area of the country you live, you could be eligible for free private healthcare alongside any fractured metatarsal NHS treatment you receive.

Whether you are dealing with fractured 5th metatarsal symptoms or recovering from open fracture surgery, you may qualify for free treatment that will help to reduce your injury recovery time in a safe way.

For more information about your entitlement to free UK private medical treatments, please get in touch with us today. Our professional, friendly team can advise you on what treatment you may be eligible for and connect you to the right people straight away.

What Free Private Treatment Is Available for a Fractured Metatarsal?

Fractured metatarsal treatment

Fractured metatarsal treatment

If you have suffered a fractured metatarsal injury, receiving free private medical treatment may help to significantly reduce your recovery time and ease the rehabilitation process. Depending on where in the UK you live, you may be able to qualify for all or some of the free fractured metatarsal treatment options that are available. There are several different treatment options available across the country, ranging from physiotherapy to helpful medical equipment.

You can find out if you are entitled to free medical treatment to assist with your fractured metatarsal recovery and what kind of treatment you are eligible to claim for. Get in touch with our friendly team as soon as possible to find out more.

How Long Does a Fractured Metatarsal Take to Heal?

The recovery time for a fractured metatarsal injury depends on several factors such as the type of fracture, where the fracture is located and the severity of the break. As every injury and patient is unique, there is no guaranteed time limit on how long it will take for a fractured metatarsal to completely heal. For example, the recovery time for a fractured 2nd metatarsal may be different to the fractured 5th metatarsal recovery time.

Simple, closed fractures of the metatarsals may completely heal in around two months while more severe fractured metatarsals may take much longer to heal. If the fracture is caused by direct trauma and the bone fragments have not become displaced, then the recovery period is likely to take 6-8 weeks with the aid of a cast. In a case where surgery is required, the recovery and rehabilitation period may take longer. Physiotherapy is recommended as part of the treatment for a fractured metatarsal injury.

Would Any Free Treatment Speed up My Recovery Time for a Fractured Metatarsal Safely?

Whether you have suffered a minor or severe fractured metatarsal, physiotherapy can be helpful in reducing the recovery time from your injury. Physiotherapy treatment may be helpful in reducing painful and uncomfortable symptoms from your metatarsal fracture and can help you to recover more quickly in a safe and professional environment. By contacting our team, you can find out what free private physiotherapy treatments are available in your area. Our friendly, professional experts can let you know what free medical help you may be entitled to and how this treatment can help your recovery from your fractured metatarsal injury.

Contact Us to Find Out Whether You Qualify for Free Private Treatment for a Fractured Metatarsal

If you are suffering from a fractured metatarsal, you could be among the millions of people in the UK who are eligible for free medical treatment to assist you as you recover from your injury. There are various private treatments that can significantly help a fractured metatarsal injury, such as the provision of medical equipment like compresses or ice packs, or orthopaedic or physiotherapy treatments. With the right kind of free private medical treatment, you can speed up your recovery and resume your normal professional and social activities much quicker.

If you have sustained a fractured metatarsal and you would like to speed up your recovery and resume with your normal life and activities sooner, contact our professional team today to check if you are entitled to free private medical treatment. If you are suffering from a fractured metatarsal, get in contact with us today. Our experienced team can put you in touch with the right people who may be able to help significantly reduce your recovery time.

Free private medical help may be available in your local area, so don’t delay in getting in touch with us to find out if you are entitled to free medical treatment. Receiving the best treatment for your fractured foot injury can significantly help your recovery process. Our phone lines are open 7 days a week from 9 am to 11 am and one of our health experts is waiting to take your call on 020 3870 4868.

Helpful Links

If you suffered a fractured metatarsal and would like to know more about foot pain, the following link provides essential reading on the topic:

More about foot pain