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Athletic Training

5th metatarsal stress fracture?



I am a varsity high school volleyball and sprained by ankle on August 6th (approx) i wore a boot for around 1 week and was playing about 11/2 weeks later. I gradually improved as time went on. On around August 22 i woke up and couldn`t put pressure on the outside of my foot, around the 5th metatarsal area. Showed the athletic trainer and he was puzzled. Said possibly spider bite because of the redness and small bump on the area. Redness and bump went away after 1 or 2 days. Went to a foot specialist and got x-rays. No sign of stress fracture, but will go back soon and probably get more x-rays. The pain subsided after 1 week in the area, but every once in a while i will get a noticable pain in the area for about 20 seconds at random times. (standing, etc.) what are you thoughts, and do you think a stress fracture will show up on the x-rays.


A stress fracture may not always show up on an x-ray.  That is why it is important to have periodic follow-up radiological tests if you are still having pain in the area (with the pain being pinpoint on the bone). Your doctor will tell you what type of testing is appropriate for you.

Being that you are still having pain in the area, if the pain is mid-shaft of the fifth metatarsal, I would still suspect that there is a problem with the bone. If the pain is located at the base of the fifth metatarsal, it could perhaps be a strain of the peroneus brevis which inserts at the base of the 5th metatarsal. This muscle assists with eversion (turning your foot out).

I agree that you should follow up with your physician if you are still experiencing pain.

Best of luck!

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Response by:

Katrina B Stibel, MA, ATC Katrina B Stibel, MA, ATC
Assistant Athletic Trainer, Instructor
Department of Athletics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University