Duration of a metatarsal fracture


The healing time for a metatarsal fracture cannot be given in general terms. It varies from person to person and depends on the following factors:

  • the age of the patient
  • the severity of the break
  • the accompanying damage to the surrounding tissue
  • the selected therapy method

Healing time for a metatarsal fracture

As already described, the healing process and thus also the duration depends on various factors.

If the course is uncomplicated, the healing process takes about 6-8 weeks.
In the case of a fracture of the first metatarsal bone, the healing process can take longer, as this is often treated conservatively with a cast in the first 6 weeks. Afterwards you should adhere to another 6 weeks with a slight increase in exertion.

Complete healing of the fracture can be assumed after approx. 6 to 12 months, depending on the age. The completion of the healing process, however, is not to be equated with complete freedom from symptoms.
While some sufferers suffer only minor impairments from a metatarsal fracture in the long term and are quickly fully operational again, some of them also have a very lengthy rehabilitation that involves a lot of pain, strain and visits to the doctor and does not necessarily end with a completely satisfactory healing can be.

Learn more about the healing process at: Metatarsal fracture healing

Duration of healing depending on the therapy method

The healing process can take different lengths of time depending on the treatment. The best way to discuss which treatment is best for you is with your doctor.

If you would like to learn more about the therapy options, also read our article: Therapy of a metatarsal fracture

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Athletes (joggers, soccer players, etc.) are particularly often affected by diseases of the foot. In some cases, the cause of the foot discomfort cannot be identified at first.
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Duration of a metatarsal fracture after an operative correction

Depending on the shape of the metatarsal fracture, the age of the person affected and the extent to which the soft tissue is involved, an operation must be performed in order to generate optimal healing.
The time it takes to completely heal is only marginally affected by the decision whether an operation has to be performed or whether fixation with wires is sufficient. During the operation, the bone fragments are returned to their original position and any damaged soft tissue is repaired, if possible. The main purpose of the operation is the so-called repositioning of the bone fragments in order to enable the bone parts to grow together correctly.

After the operation, the affected foot should still not be loaded so that the bone can heal and regain its usual stability. For this reason, support aids are often necessary to avoid stressing the bone for the time being.

After about six weeks, partial weight bearing can be started on the foot.

Even after the various surgeries that can be performed to treat a worse metatarsal fracture, the intensive recovery period is usually around 6 weeks. During this time, many doctors recommend wearing a plaster cast. Once the 6 weeks have passed, you should plan to visit the doctor again, because on the one hand the inserted wires or screws can then be removed and on the other hand the doctor should evaluate the healing process that has taken place and discuss further action with the patient.

Duration of a metatarsal fracture during conservative therapy with plaster of paris

In addition to repositioning, the process of bringing the bones back into the correct position and fixing the broken bone, it is sometimes necessary to apply a plaster cast to stabilize the foot and prevent movements in the metatarsus.
The plaster of paris is usually used when the bone fragments are not displaced and conservative therapy is sufficient to treat the fracture. The plaster of paris enables rapid and uncomplicated healing. The cast is usually put on for about six weeks. After this time, the bone has largely healed and partial stress on the foot is possible. It should be noted that the plaster of paris should tend to be put on for less time in children and can be removed for around four to five weeks.

The restricted movement of the foot results in a muscle breakdown of the muscles under the cast. Through various exercises, a targeted and moderate muscle build-up should take place after removing the cast on the foot.

What should be considered when exercising after a metatarsal fracture?

The metatarsal fracture is one of the most common bone injuries to the foot and is often caused by certain sports. It is important to distinguish whether there is a so-called stress fracture or whether the break was caused by an external force.
Stress fractures occur in sports that place high loads on the foot. Dancers in particular are increasingly affected by this form of metatarsal fracture.

When asking when sporting activities can be started again, a differentiation must be made between the types of sport practiced. As a general rule, partial weight bearing on the foot is possible after about 6 weeks. Initially, only exercises should be performed which serve to build up the muscles of the foot and which only exert low stress on the metatarsal bones.

After about two months, sports that involve less stress on the foot, such as swimming, can be performed again. Sports that put a lot of strain on the foot, such as dancing or running, should only be practiced after 6 to 12 months. This is especially true if the metatarsal fracture was a stress fracture. Individual advice on which sport is recommended and when in individual cases can be provided by the attending physician.

Prognosis for a metatarsal fracture

In the case of an uncomplicated break in which the fragments are not displaced, the prognosis is very good. However, if the fracture is complicated or if surrounding tissue such as cartilage is involved, a pseudarthrosis can occur. The fragments do not grow together and as a result rub against each other when moving, causing pain.

It is not possible to say in general whether the foot can be fully moved again after the healing process is complete and the person affected is symptom-free.