Spiral Fracture 5th Metatarsal


Last Tuesday whilst out running I turned my right ankle resulting in a spiral fracture in my fifth metatarsal, does anyone have any experience of this type of injury & any advice they can give me ?

I'm interested to see how long away from running people had to take, I have read / been told 6 - 8 weeks, with 6 weeks being the bare minimum.




  • JazzijJazzij ✭✭✭

    Last year I had a 5th metatarsal break, but it wan't a spiral, just a simple break.


    I was in a plaster cast for a week from A&E, crutches and no weight bearing. At my first fracture clinic was put into a hard soled shoe, no weight bearing for a further 2 weeks, then weight bearing as pain allows till 6wk check up.

    Back to normal footwear (trainers) and one crutch, with physio for a couple of weeks.

    I found the foot quite achey if I was on it too long, a 1hr walk round local park was sore the first time, but OK a week later.

    Can't be specific re the running but listen to your body and let it heal.

  • With breaks/fractures of the metatarsals 6-8 weeks, before considering load-bearing activity again, appears to be norm, Steve.  I'd even go so far as to say 10 weeks. 

    When I broke my 4th and 5th metatarsals a few years back, I was in a cast for approximately four weeks, before being placed into an aircast for a further month. 

    Similarly to Jazzij, I was also provided with crutches for the duration of my recovery, under the instruction not to weight bear, so that the bones healed without the need for surgical intervention. 

    Again, as stated by Jazzij, since the muscles of the feet and lower legs had barely been used for the better part of two months, once free of the Air-cast (which I thought looked rather cool) it did take a couple of weeks to re-develop strength in the unused muscles and range of motion through the ankle, when placing weight upon the foot.

    Granted, the first month was somewhat frustrating but once the Air-cast was fitted, life became a little more comfortable as my leg/foot didn't feel so restricted. 

    To provide a little further insight into metatarsal injuries, a friend of mine recently broke her fifth metatarsal (she's currently in a hard-soled shoe).  However, as she's young, she's not adhering to the advice that was given (upon provision of the shoe and crutches), proceeding to walk around without her crutches.  At the same time, nearly a month after the injury, she wonders why her foot is still swollen and she's still in pain. 

    She thinks that she's going to a Halloween party on the 31st, free of the boot but due to the amount swelling still present, I've told her she's not, especially since she's been referred to a consultant after her 4 week check up.  It really wouldn't surprise me if her metatarsal needs to be pinned. 

    As such, you can either be sensible, allowing natural recovery to take its course, or you can be foolish (like my friend) and face the consequences of ignoring the advice given by the fracture clinic, Steve. 








  • Oh I intend to completely disregard the "advice" given to me yesterday at the fracture clinic & I'll tell you why;

    Yesterday exactly 1 week after I sustained the injury ( 5th Metatarsal spiral fracture after turning my ankle whilst out running ) I attended my local fracture clinic where I was seen by a young lady roughly my age.

    She proceeded to tell me that my fracture had "probably" already healed 7 days after I had sustained it! lol didn't even ask me to take my sock off so she could properly examine my foot, I took the sock off, then I think she mentioned 4 weeks before I could get back to exercise. ( The lady at the urgent care clinic who was very good & examined me on the day I broke it said 8 weeks no running )

    I have done a lot of reading about this injury on the internet in the last week & the figure that I keep reading is 6 weeks for the bone to heal & 6-8 weeks away from running & even that appears to be an ideal scenario with no complications, a lot of people appear to have been out for 3 months or longer!

    To add insult to injury, ( excuse the pun ) this "expert" also proceeded to inform me that had she seen me initially at the urgent care clinic then she wouldn't have even given me the air cast "Wayne Rooney" boot which I have been wearing for the last week & will be wearing for the next week & beyond.

    No follow up appointments, no physio, no nothing, to be honest I would have had more respect for this person had they just told me to F off & told me they couldn't care less what had happened to my foot because essentially that's exactly what happened anyway, I was fobbed off.


  • JazzijJazzij ✭✭✭

    I was told that the initial 2-3 weeks non weight bearing allows the bones to start knitting together, and this new 'bone' is 'sticky' so you don't want to dislodge it. after this time putting some stress on the bone (weight bearing) actually stimulates bone growth. Also that the bone continues to 'remodel' itself for up to 12months afterwards.

    I was also told the hard soled shoe was so my ankle was able to move (I did circling exercises) as immobilising it is considered more harmful, so may be why your Dr wouldn't have used an air cast.

    At my follow up xray (6 wks) I commented it was my first break, but was told an old break in another bone was clearly visible.

    I had previously had a foot injury xrayed, and this hadn't showed up a break so I carried on as normal ,as best I could with the pain, so it must had healed OK with out any cast/immobilisation.

    I asked for physio at my 6wk appointment, don't know if I would have got it if I hadn't asked.


  • Unfortunately a lot of the stuff I have read on the internet with regards to this injury would suggest that it is pure pot luck as to whether you get someone who knows what they are talking about or not or with regards to myself & yesterday, someone who can be bothered or not.

    I'm happy with the Wayne Rooney Air Cast / Boot & crutches combo for the time being, the boot tends to become quite painful to wear after 4 or 5 hours particularly in the evenings.

    Seeing as the fracture clinic were of no help whatsoever, I think I will maybe leave it a month as it is, then get a doctors appointment & try and get a follow up X-ray through him / her & if necessary complain about my treatment yesterday at the hospital.

    Shame because my initial treatment at the urgent care clinic down the road from where I live was excellent, I would have given the lady I saw there 9/10, the women yesterday I would give 4/10 & that's me being very polite / generous.

    For future reference, can you get X-rays done at a Podiatrists ?

    Other than that I have started drinking full fat milk & will continue with that.

    When this happened last week I was completely OK with it & very much a what will be will be type attitude, but yesterday has wound me up & can see myself getting depressed about it all now, I have had a bad year with injuries as it is. ( mainly to do with my groin )

  • Even after a week spent consuming copious amounts of full fat milk, it'd still be far too soon for the bone to have healed, so I totally understand your sense of frustration over the assessment, Steve. 

    I'd speak to your doctor sooner, rather than leaving it a month or contact the fracture clinic to explain that you were unhappy with yesterday's assessment and demand a second opinion from someone who knows what they're talking about. 




  • Having fractured my fibula (different, I know) in June I can recommend that as much of the time as possible you get the boot off and put the foot UP - higher than your hip - to improve blood flow.

    Frustrating, I know (and I really do know), but necessary.

    And get a second medical opinion re. when to start changing from resting it to weight bearing.

  • Thanks Debra ( & MG2 )

    2 weeks on from the injury now, the foot appears to be at its best first thing in the morning when I am barefoot & without the aircast for an hour or two, the foot also appears to be less bruised first thing in the morning, but then appears more bruised after an hour or so of being up, strange. Also purple blotches around the base's of a few of the toes.

    I am experiencing no pain in any conventional sense, although aware from time to time that I do indeed have a fracture in my foot, more a dull ache / localised awareness of an issue rather than "Pain"

    Movement in foot is still clearly inhibited / restricted when compared to the left ( unbroken ) foot, but do appear to be moving in the right direction with more movement & less swelling noticeable than even a few days ago.

    It's frustrating because I am one of those people that needs to go for my run, 2 weeks off from running, only another 6 to go!

    I had really bad cabin fever a few days ago, feel a little bit better now, but no doubt the cabin fever will be back with a vengeance before too long!

    Probably wait another week or so before I have a go on my stationary exercise bike & then swimming after that, sometime in December I am planning to get a monthly gym pass to really start ramping my rehab up, still no running for 8 weeks!

  • Good news ( I think ! )

    Went to see the consultant yesterday which was ironically exactly 2 months since I had broken my metatarsal, the date I was told I would be able to start running again on the day I broke my metatarsal!

    He seemed to think that the bone is healing nicely so I can think of getting back to run in a months time ( I may or may not attempt a Parkrun or in my case a Parkjog on New Years Day because that seems like as good a date as any to start drawing a line under the whole episode )

    I feel I have dealt with the whole thing reasonably well, some days I was quite angry, but didn't get too depressed.

    Thing I would like to ask is of others who have broken ( 5th ) metatarsals in the past through running or similar injuries, what kind of activitys did you start doing to really start ramping up your recovery / rehab ? I'm thinking of long walks & swimming with my flotation belt on "aqua jogging"

    How long realistically was it before you were back at your best after the initial injury ?

    I've already decided against London.

    How long do you think you should take before entering races again after a broken metatarsal ?

    Any other advice to do with broken metatarsal recovery / rehab much appreciated because I haven't had too much of that from the "professionals" if I am being completely honest.



  • Don't run whilst you still have pain walking.


  • JazzijJazzij ✭✭✭

    I found that once back in normal shoes, rather than the hard soled boot, the foot ached if I was on it for too long. My first walk was 1hour slowish with a local park health walk and I couldn't have done much more as my foot was quite sore, a couple of weeks later I did same walk with no pain, so progress is fairly quick, but it still takes time to build up. I also had some nhs physio as well.

  • I've actually got a question for anyone who's had a second metatarsal stress fracture. I had an x ray taken last week and it has been confirmed that I have a stress fracture. I got my boot cam on yesterday and I've been told by my physio that for the first two weeks of wearing my boot I am not allowed to do any exercise what so ever. I obviously expected that I would not be able to run or do any weight bearing exercise but I thought swimming or pilates at least would be ok. It's only been the second day of not exercising and I'm already wondering how I'm going to sit tight for two weeks. For those who've had this injury before was this the same story for you or where you advised that you could do non weight bearing exercise? 

  • Sympathies. I was allowed to do Pilates (adapted as needed to not bear weight on the injured foot), and I think I was allowed to swim, but I can't remember. And I was allowed to cycle, but I wasn't in a boot.

    There's a video of someone doing exercises while their foot was in a cast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gwf7nrtXVo

    And there are more shown when you go to that one.

    I would also recommend going and volunteering at your local parkrun, if you can get to it - plenty of volunteering roles that can be done sitting down (scanning barcodes, timing runners, handing out finish tokens) and in my experience it definitely beats being fed up at home when you can't run.


  • I'm looking for sports wrap/sock/support options for a recovering 5th metatarsal spiral fracture as I return to play 12 weeks after the injury. It's a beach ultimate frisbee tournament, so looking for how best to provide support whilst I play, albeit, at a more cautious pace.

    Should I be using KT tape, compression socks, or some type of beach shoe?

    Thanks in advance :-)
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