The New York Giants suffered a setback today, as their player, Hakeem Nicks, sustained a fracture of his fifth metatarsal bone of the foot. This player will have surgery and not practice for the next twelve weeks due to this injury. Fifth metatarsal bone fractures are complicated and quite serious because the blood supply to this bone, especially the base, is not very strong. This causes delayed healing of the bone, which can lead to prolonged pain, swelling, and disability.
The fifth metatarsal bone is located along the outside of the foot and is attached to the fifth toe. Twisting the foot or ankle, falling, or abnormal pressure on this portion of the foot can cause the bone to break. Often, the injured party will have immediate pain to the area which will make walking and standing difficult. The fracture can be identified with X-rays in the majority of cases, but stress fractures (or hairline cracks) of this bone may be better visualized by MRI or CT scans. The fracture can be treated conservatively with immobilization (casting) or surgery, and the direction for care usually depends on the activity level of the patient and whether the fracture is displaced (out of position). Whether conservative or surgical care is chosen, initial healing take 6-8 weeks. Following this, a course of physical therapy is often needed to increase strength, motion, and to get the patient back to their normal level of activity. Additionally, a device called a bone stimulator may be needed to increase the rate of healing.
If you have a fifth metatarsal problem or question, please contact our offices for your appointment with Dr. Bender. Oak Park 708-763-0580 and Chicago 773-776-3166. Dr. Mary Ann Bender is a foot and ankle specialist who has been in practice for the last 11 years. She is also an instructor at William Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine.