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Metatarsal shaft fractures

Robert L Hatch, MD, MPH
James R Clugston, MD, MS
Section Editors
Patrice Eiff, MD
Chad A Asplund, MD, FACSM, MPH
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


The approach to metatarsal fractures varies according to the location and type of fracture. Fractures of the metatarsal shaft are discussed below. Proximal fractures of the fifth metatarsal, metatarsal stress fractures, and toe fractures are discussed separately. (See "Proximal fifth metatarsal fractures" and "Stress fractures of the metatarsal shaft" and "Toe fractures in adults" and "Metatarsal and toe fractures in children".)


Excluding toe fractures, metatarsal fractures are the most common foot fracture [1-4]. Approximately one-third of metatarsal fractures involve the shaft or distal portion of the metatarsal. Direct blows and twisting injuries cause many of these fractures. In adults, high forces are required to fracture the first metatarsal. Hence, fractures of the first metatarsal shaft are much less common than fractures of the other metatarsal shafts.

Some populations are at higher risk for traumatic metatarsal fractures:

Older adult women with osteoporosis, decreased physical activity, or benzodiazepine use [4]

Diabetics, especially if they have had diabetes for greater than 25 years or are more active [3]

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 18, 2017.
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