It can be shocking to a patient that comes in with pain and a bruised, swollen foot to learn that one simple misstep or just a common ankle twist could cause a bone fracture. But ankle sprains are one of the most common causes of the fifth metatarsal fractures - a long bone on the outside of the foot that connects to the little toe.
Towards the outer heel, this long bone is attached to a very strong tendon (known as the peroneus brevis tendon) - also on the outside of the foot - that goes up to a calf muscle behind the ankle. When someone twists their ankle inwards, the calf muscle and the tendon tend to pull so hard that the bone often fails first. The direct line of the tendon pull can fracture the bone even though there might not be direct trauma to the foot.
When this happens, the pain is usually immediate and within the first 24 hours the patient experiences bruising, swelling and inability to bear weight on the foot. Treatments vary according to the extent of the injury and the patient’s needs, however typically may include rest, casting, a walking boot to immobilize the foot, crutches to avoid weight bearing and in some cases surgery. Bone and fracture healing takes around six to eight weeks.
We recommend seeing a podiatrist right away for the right diagnosis and treatment plan or following up with one within a few days if you end up going to an emergency room or urgent care. At Central Massachusetts Podiatry we offer same day emergency visits with in-office X-ray and ultrasound. Text us at 508-625-7775 and our staff will promptly call you back.
It is also a good idea to follow up with a podiatrist after any ankle sprain that ended up swollen, even if there was no identifiable fracture, especially if ankle sprains are recurrent. At our office we can make sure our patients are on the right path to full recovery and work on strengthening the foot and ankle to avoid future injuries and complications.