What is a metatarsal stress fracture?

Fact Checked

A metatarsal stress fracture is described as a fine fracture that occurs in one of the long metatarsal bones in the foot. It is important to note that a stress fracture is also likely to occur due to overuse or poor foot biomechanics. When a stress fracture is suspected, it is best that you are prepared with the appropriate measures to perform to prevent further injury or while waiting for medical care. All you have to do is register for first aid training today.


The symptoms of a metatarsal stress fracture usually include pain in the foot that gradually occurs. Remember that the pain is usually situated towards the center or front part of the foot and can be aggravated if the individual engages in weight bearing activities such as running, walking or dancing.

In most cases, there is a specific spot that is tender and painful to touch at the site of the fracture. Swelling is often present but when an X-ray is taken, it will not reveal the fracture until 2-3 weeks after it has started to heal.

Metatarsal stress fracture
The symptoms of a metatarsal stress fracture usually include pain in the foot that gradually occurs.

Overview on metatarsal stress fracture

Metatarsal stress fractures can either be an acute fracture or stress fracture. It can be fractured through impact particularly during sports such as football or occurs as a gradual onset in which repetitive impact causes a stress fracture.

This usually involves the second, third or fourth metatarsal bones. When it comes to stress fractures to the metatarsals, they are the second most common location where stress fractures occur. The most prevalent area where a metatarsal fracture occurs is the second metatarsal, especially among those who have a second toe that is longer than the big toe. This is quite common among those who overpronate with the first metatarsal in a dorsiflexion position since this places more stress on the 2nd metatarsal. Stress fractures involving the other metatarsal are not common, but can also occur.

Causes of metatarsal stress fractures

  • Overuse
  • Overpronation
  • Engaging in strenuous training usually too soon without getting enough rest
  • Oversupination

It is important to note that this type of stress fracture is more likely to occur among army recruits, ballet dancers, runners and even gymnasts.


The individual should take a break from any weight bearing activities as much as possible. As for those who have jobs that require weight bearing, it is recommended to use a walking boot.

The resting period should be around 4 weeks in order to allow proper healing. The individual can resume activity once all the pain upon touch and walking has cleared up. If pain still occurs, the individual should stop and continue to rest. Start with a steady return to activity and gradually build up the intensity and duration. In case the stress fracture was caused by abnormal foot mechanics such as oversupination or overpronation, then orthotics might be needed to correct this.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All firstaidcprvictoria.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.