How to Treat a Metatarsal Stress Fracture


A metatarsal stress fracture is a break that occurs in one of the metatarsal bones—the long bones on the top of the foot. These types of fractures are generally caused by repetitive stress, generally from athletic activities such as running and basketball. While not as serious as a broken bone, a metatarsal stress fracture can be painful and needs to be treated with care. Learn how to treat a metatarsal stress fracture so you can heal as quickly as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice or ice pack
  • NSAIDs
  • Supportive shoe or boot

How to Treat a Metatarsal Stress Fracture

Stay off your feet. Avoid all weight-bearing exercise for six to eight weeks and all unnecessary walking or standing. This rest will give your stress fracture time to heal properly.

Take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, such as ibuprofen. NSAIDs can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with a stress fracture. Follow the dosage instructions on the label.

Apply ice—an ice pack, a bag of ice or even a package of frozen vegetables—to the metatarsal stress fracture. Use a towel around the ice to protect the skin, and apply for 15 to 20 minutes at a time several times throughout the day to help ease swelling.

Get some support. Wear supportive shoes, such as running shoes or other athletic shoes, to provide support to your feet and avoid exacerbating the metatarsal stress fracture. You doctor might recommend that you wear a support boot to help stabilize the foot and prevent further injury.

See your doctor. If you condition doesn't improve in a few weeks, consult your physician to discuss further treatment options for your metatarsal stress fracture.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult with a physician, preferably a podiatrist, to confirm the presence of a stress fracture and determine the best treatment options.

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