Metatarsal Stress Fracture

metatarsal stress fracture

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Learn more about Metatarsal Stress Fracture


Stress fractures are tiny cracks in a bone caused by overuse and repetitive force. This differs to an acute fracture which occurs from a one time injury – such as a nasty ankle sprain resulting in an acute fracture of the ankle bone.

A Metatarsal Stress Fracture is a common injury impacting athletes.  The cause is because of an incomplete crack in one of the metatarsal bones of the forefoot.

There are five metatarsal bones in each foot, which run from the base of the toes back towards the body. They connect the toes to the tarsal bones in the middle part of the foot. The metatarsus are some of the most commonly fractured bones in the body due to the amount of repeated pressure they absorb in activities like running, walking and jumping.

Symptoms of Metatarsal Stress Fracture

Symptoms include:

  • sharp pain in the forefoot, aggravated by walking or weight bearing activities
  • tenderness to pressure on the top surface of the foot
  • diffuse swelling over the top of the forefoot
  • aching pain which may persist even at rest or at night

Causes of Metatarsal Stress Fracture

Stress fractures often result from increasing the type, frequency or intensity of an activity too quickly. Hence, it is an overuse injury.

Bone is in a constant state of turnover – a process called bone remodelling. New bone develops and replaces older bone. If a person’s activity is suddenly increased, the break down of older bone occurs more rapidly and may outpace the body’s ability to make new bone to replace it. As a result, the bone weakens and becomes vulnerable to stress fractures.

Other Risk factors include:
  • Increased activity (as mentioned above). Stress fractures often occur in people who suddenly shift from a sedentary lifestyle to an active training regimen or who rapidly increase the intensity, duration or frequency of training sessions.
  • Certain sports such as running, basketball, tennis, dance or gymnastics which are high impact and repetitive.
  • Certain foot postures may increase risk of stress fractures. A pronated foot (collapsed arch) results in 1st metatarsal and big toe dorsiflexing resulting in the 2nd metatarsal being subjected to more load. A short first metatarsal also overloads the 2nd metatarsal.
  • Women, especially those who have abnormal or absent menstrual periods, are at higher risk of developing stress fractures.
  • Bone insufficiency – Conditions that decrease bone strength and density, such as osteoporosis, and certain long-term medications like prednisone can make you more likely to experience a stress fracture, even when you are performing normal everyday activities.
  • Previous stress fractures – Having had one or more stress fractures puts you at higher risk of having more.
  • Lack of nutrients – Eating disorders and lack of vitamin D and calcium can make bones more likely to develop stress fractures.

In addition, Some stress fractures don’t heal properly which can cause chronic problems. You may be at higher risk of additional stress fractures, or the stress fracture may worsen and become an acute fracture when you have not taken any actions of your underlying condition.

Do you have any of these symptoms?  One of our podiatrist can assist you and help what treatment options are best for you.
Schedule an appointment here or you may call us at 44 (0) 207 101 4000. 📞



We hope you have a feetastic day! 👣☀️

-The Chelsea Clinic and Team


Read our latest blog about Navicular Stress Fracture here🦶💥💢/

Check our blog about 5th Metatarsal Fracture here

Read our blog about Pott’s Fracture here

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