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One of the most common injuries in football is the 5th metatarsal fracture. This kind of injury has been very common in football in the past 10 years and it is reported that several high- profiled footballers including, David Beckham, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney have suffered with this injury. Metatarsal bones are the long slender bones found in foot. There are 5 Metatarsals and they act like a flexible structure that help in balance and holding up the body like a rigid lever and in the propulsion of the ankle and the foot.
Metatarsal fractures can be caused by activities such as landing from a jump, a forceful impact to the outer aspect of the foot or when rolling an ankle (ankle sprain). Patients with this condition typically experience a sudden onset of sharp, intense outer foot or ankle pain at the time of injury. Sometimes the patient may have heard an audible snapping sound at the time of injury. Patients with a 5th metatarsal fracture may also experience swelling, bruising, stiffness and pain on firmly touching the affected region of bone. An X-ray is usually required to confirm diagnosis and assess the severity of the fracture. Further investigations such as an MRI, CT scan or bone scan may also be required, to assist with diagnosis and assess the severity of the injury.
Not much can be done to prevent a metatarsal fracture, especially when force is applied to the foot during a traumatic injury. But in football, it is also believed that the lower leg body shape and the alignment of the leg and the foot is the problem. Many footballers are slightly bow legged and it has been suggested this creates enormous stress on the outside of the foot and ankle. This is a simple fact of mechanics. If you imagine a bow leg, and you turn the foot inwards, there is naturally an increased stress on the outside of the foot, which in this instance means an increased stress on the 5th metatarsal. It is also believed that the injury to some extent this may have something to do with the type of shoewear and the playing surface.
Patients with a fractured 5th metatarsal usually make a full recovery with appropriate management (whether surgical or conservative) and return to football usually takes place in weeks to months and should be guided by the treating Specialist.
For more information please visit www.thelondonsportsinjuryclinic.co.uk