Just a few days prior to the start of the season opener, Ohio State’s defensive lineman Tommy Schutt suffered an unfortunate foot injury that had left coaches scrambling to fill his vacant spot. The fracture he suffered was of one of the five metatarsal bones in the foot.
There are several locations that these long slender bones may fracture at depending on the cause of injury. Stress fractures, which commonly occur in athletes who are constantly placing pressure on their feet, most often affect the distal portion of the shaft of the 2ndmetatarsal. While concerning, stress fractures are not as worrisome as a traumatically induced fracture. Stress fractures typically extend only partially through the bone and bone fragments remain in their normal anatomic position for healing.
Traumatic fractures may occur at any point along the metatarsal bones and severity of the injury depends on the individual and mechanism of the injury. Individuals of advanced age or with poor nutrition may have osteoporosis and decreased bone strength. A weakened bone may fracture more easily and into more fragments, increasing the difficulty of healing. Individuals who smoke are also at a much higher risk of having weakened bones, and subsequent difficulty with bone healing.
When the joint at the base of the metatarsals is affected it is known as a Lisfranc injury. This is a fairly severe athletic foot injury, and may or may not involve fractures of the bases of the metatarsals. Several football players, including the Pittsburgh Steeler’s Le’Veon Bell, have recently suffered an injury of the Lisfranc, or tarsometatarsal joint. These injuries appear with diffuse swelling and bruising of the top of the midfoot. Surgery is often required to restore the anatomic alignment of the joint and recovery can take a minimum of 6-8 weeks. While it is not certain what type of metatarsal injury Schutt sustained, he unfortunately will not be ready to return to action for the start of the season. Luckily for Ohio State football, Chase Farris will move into the position of Tommy Schutt and has already been performing well in practice!
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