Your metatarsals are the bones in your toes that connect to the rest of the foot. There are five in each foot, and all are long and thin, with a knob-like structure at the end where they connect to the toe bones. Sometimes, especially when you’re being active, they might get injured or even fractured. In such a situation, you should see your foot specialist in Victoria, Kelowna, or Nanaimo, who can help you to regain your mobility and return to your favourite sport.
But how exactly are metatarsal injuries treated, and will you need to undergo surgery to resolve the issue? Fortunately, most problems related to these bones will heal without an invasive procedure, but it all depends on what happened and how quickly you have to get back on your feet. In many cases, we will recommend using specialized footwear or a cast and resting your injury; but sometimes, surgery is unavoidable.
How Are Metatarsal Injuries Treated?
There are several ways of treating a metatarsal injury, and the best person to ask is your foot doctor. Metatarsals usually break when your foot has been crushed by a heavy object, when it got caught in a tight place, or when you twisted it. If you’re an athlete who often runs or jumps, you might also be suffering from a stress fracture due to overuse of the joints.
Your doctor can let you know what kind of treatment is best, and they will take all aspects of your situation into consideration. Let’s have a closer look at some of the possible interventions and why it’s important for you to see a specialist before making any decisions.
See Your Foot Specialist in Victoria, Kelowna, or Nanaimo
When you arrive at your doctor’s office, they will first diagnose your condition. In most cases, the metatarsal will be fractured, but to know what is going on, we must do imaging studies. The specialist can then tell you more about what occurred and what to do to prevent it in the future. For example, they might let you know that you need to increase your training frequency more gradually or that you should pay attention to your calcium levels.
Depending on the severity of your injury, your specialist might tell you that you need additional intervention. They will most likely advise rest, but you might also need a cast or even surgery. Before making this decision, your doctor will consider all aspects, including your daily routine and how you use your feet. For example, a top athlete might be more likely to undergo surgery because they need to return to their activities as soon as possible.
Use Special Shoes or a Walking Boot
If you have a small injury that is likely to heal without much intervention, your doctor might tell you to simply wear shoes with stiff soles. These can prevent your foot from moving too much while you walk, so the bones can heal properly. However, in many cases, this won’t be enough. You might be put in a walking boot, which immobilizes the foot more completely.
This is a great option for many people because it allows you to still complete the majority of your daily activities. You won’t have to keep off your feet entirely, and you can go about your day without feeling that you’re going to inadvertently move and injure your metatarsal further. Sometimes, you might also be given crutches along with your boot, which helps you to walk around more effectively.
Use a Cast
Severe injuries sometimes require a full cast in order to stabilize and support the foot more completely. In such a case, you will likely be advised to stay off your foot for the first few weeks after the injury. In general, metatarsal issues should heal within 8-12 weeks, but your cast may come off before that time, and then you can gradually start to put more pressure on your foot again.
Have Surgery for Significant Injuries
Some types of injuries can benefit from surgery, either because they won’t heal completely on their own or because an operation can speed up the time it takes for you to get better. Examples of injuries that might need surgery include ones where the bone is poking out of the skin or ones where the bones have separated so far that they are unlikely to come together again on their own.
When you undergo surgery, your doctor will often insert temporary pins into your foot, which serve to stabilize the injury and allow the bones to grow together again. These will need to be removed around 6-10 weeks after the initial operation, so you’ll come back to the clinic at that time. Sometimes, a different method will be used, and your bones will be held together with plates and screws.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know what a metatarsal injury is and what can be done to speed up healing, you might have some additional questions. If your doctor has told you that you have a Jones fracture, it’s more likely that you will undergo surgery, so you’ll need to know exactly what this term means. What’s more, you’ll be curious about how long you have to rest after surgery. Let’s have a look at some of these questions.
What Is a Jones Fracture?
Any of your metatarsals can break, and the type of intervention your Kelowna, Victoria, or Nanaimo foot specialist chooses will depend on the location of your injury. A common problem for athletes is a Jones fracture, which is an issue with the base of your fifth metatarsal. This is the bump you feel about halfway along the outside of your foot.
There are certain foot shapes that make this type of fracture more likely, and if you regularly participate in strenuous physical activity, surgical intervention is usually recommended. This is because it can speed up your recovery time and ensure that you won’t have permanent problems with this area of your foot. Your specialist can confirm whether you have a Jones fracture or another type of fifth metatarsal fracture, which might not need surgery.
How Long Will I Need to Rest After Surgery?
After your procedure, you will need to take some time to rest and recover. In most cases, you should stay off your foot for around 6-8 weeks, and your foot might be placed in a cast during this time. Every few weeks, you will return to the clinic, so we can check how your injury is healing and give you new instructions. At the two-month mark, you may be able to start using your foot again, but you’ll need to build up slowly.
When you’ve injured one of your metatarsals, you should see your foot specialist in Victoria, Kelowna, or Nanaimo to find out how you can best be treated. Your doctor will do some imaging studies, so they can see what happened and how extensive your injury is. Then, they will recommend a course of treatment, which might include wearing a special type of shoe, a boot, or a cast, or even undergoing surgery.
An invasive medical procedure isn’t always necessary, but it can be helpful for people who need to get back to heavy physical activity quickly. What’s more, it can prevent further complications. Call or message us now at Island Foot Clinics to book your appointment with one of our specialists. We will be happy to welcome you to our clinic and help you figure out the best way forward.