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What Are The Metatarsal Bones?

The foot contains five bones in a set that aid in the articulation of the toes and the ankle joint known as the metatarsal bones or metatarsals. These bones are surrounded by ligaments that keep them in the shape of an arch which forms the foot’s arch. These bones are very similar to the metacarpal bones of the hands. Both kinds of bones are of great importance in the body’s functioning by allowing for functioning and stability. They also give the body the balance it requires.

Functioning of the Bones

 Each of these bones in the set are individually numbered. They start with the number one at the great toe and outwardly work. Each one moves with the adjoined toe and is attached to a certain bone in a network of bones that form the ankle.

Metatarsal Injury

Many individuals injure their feet and ankles especially athletes. Most commonly the injury is a stress fracture which happens for example in athletes who may train too aggressively. They may also break these bones. This type of injury is very painful and generally leaves an individual unable to do most anything as they are not able to bare weight or walk until this is completely and correctly healed. Often supportive footwear can be used for a stress fracture that is mild. With a stress fracture that is of a more serious nature, it may be required that one maintain full rest and be evaluated and a stabilization boot be fitted to allow the healing of the bone. A complete break of the bone will need surgery in order to place a pin in the bone to stabilize it until it heals. This usually takes about six weeks at the minimum.

Healing Process

Following the process of the fracture healing, individuals need to slowly try to gain strength in the injured foot. Levels of activity that one was enduring before should be avoided until full strength is regained as this could cause severe problems with the bone and the foot. Physical therapy will most likely be ordered to help in introducing the metatarsals back into the stresses of daily activities. This type of therapy often involves toning as well as stretching routines that will slowly build strength.

Symptoms of a Problem

Anyone who may begin to suffer with foot pain, swelling, and often discoloration or bruising of one or both feet should seek the advice of their physician or a podiatrist as these symptoms could be caused by a fracture or break to one or more bones in the foot. If fractures or breaks of the bone are not treated, infections can develop and improper healing may occur which could cause serious impairment in one’s ability to move about.
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