Fifth Metatarsal Fracture - No Healing After 11 Weeks

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I have a shaft fifth metatarsal fracture which occurred on January 2018. It's going on 12 weeks now and there is no sign of healing. I am using the boot full time. I do not have any pain but I do get minor swelling if I walk on it for long periods of time. My doctor suggested I remove the boot and start wearing normal padded shoes and slowly start putting weight on the foot. My main concern is that my last X-ray shows no improvement from the X-ray taken on Day 1, so why am I being told to start walking on it? Wouldn't it cause complications to the healing process if I start putting weight on a fractured foot? Should I just push for the surgery at this point? 

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  • Posted

    Hi Yani

    I assume you’ve seen a podiatrist?  If they’re telling you to come out of the boot then you should do what they say. The boot obviously isn’t aiding recovery and if worn for too long can actually hinder it. The blood supply to 5th metatarsals is poorer than in the rest of the foot so it’ll take a long time to heal. Back when I broke my 5th metatarsal, some 40 years ago, a nurse tried to force me to walk on it straight away! I’d also badly hurt the ankle and it was agony. No moon boots in those days, just some horrible black leather boot which was offered no support whatsoever. It took months to get better, even at the age of 16. 

    If it’s just a GP telling you what to do then I’d be a bit more dubious; however I think it does sound like the right advice. Get the swelling down and blood supply up without the boot. 

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  • Posted

    Did your doctor say the X-ray didn't show any healing, or is that just how you thought it looked? I've heard that bone healing apparently doesn't show up well on X-rays in the earlier stages, especially in the feet. When I went back for my follow-up appointment last week they checked how well I'd healed based on my pain levels (or lack thereof) when pressure was applied to the fracture site, rather than doing an X-ray.

    I'd say follow the doctor's advice and try weaning yourself out of the boot, but if you're in severe pain when walking (i.e. the same as when you first broke your foot), go back and ask about other options like surgery or bone stimulators. If you haven't been fully walking/putting weight on the foot with the boot on, I'd try that first for a week or so before you attempt walking in ordinary shoes.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your advice! I actually went to a different doctor who mentioned it is healing enough for me to start putting some weight on it. He also gave me the go ahead to start wearing regular supportive shoes. I did start walking around my house this weekend and it does not hurt so that's a good sign so far!

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  • Posted

    I have similar condition like you. I fractured my 5th metatarsal bone on January 2018, I wore boot for 8 weeks (i can bear weight) , I started to walk with a running shoe inside the house and regular boot outside. On my 10th week I started walk normal and wear normal shoes.Mine did not swell after a week, pain is 1/10. I had my 3rd x'ray last March 29 and the result is the same as the original x ray. My orthopedic surgeon advised me to take another xray on May 10 and if its not healing yet, i might go for surgery. I guess I will wait 6 months more to see if there is no healing as surgery might coz some risks. I am taking calcium, Vit D ,opc 3 and Bromelain plus for faster healing for a month now.. I will find out if there will be healing occured on May 10th..

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    • Posted

      I think I've had six or more x-rays at this point which is frustrating because I expected the healing process to be within that magical "6 to 8 week" period. I have started wearing running shoes and walking short distances with the help of a crutch, only for a small portion of the day when I am at work. I walk around bare feet at home. I have the same amount of pain, 1/10. I have found a useful youtube video on physical therapy you can do home which has been helping to at least stretch out my muscles at the point. I also have another x ray in about two weeks, but I am not hopeful I will see any change so I might also push for surgery down the road. Increasing Vit D is helpful!

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  • Posted

    Hi - daughter had same fracture - at four weeks doctor said same thing to her. She started walking on it and by week seven she was healed.  I had the same concern about walking but physio therapist agreed and said the friction from walking speeds up bone growth. Be careful though....just walking .....no running ....no jumping....no spinning smile Good luck!!
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    • Posted

      I'm glad she had a speedy recovery compared to mine! I barely have any pain at this point so I am taking my doctors recommendation. I think it's all mental at this pint because I am nervous of starting to square one. You're right, slow and steady is the way to go.

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    • Posted

      yes there is a fear when they say "not healed" and "start walking in normal shoe" in the same sentence. Trust your doctor - if you find yourself limping too badly use your crutches equally on both sides (physio recommended) otherwise you muck up the rest of your body.

       

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