A dancer’s fracture, also known as an avulsion fracture, is a break off the base of the 5thmetatarsal bone, which is the long bone of the midfoot that attaches to the 5th (little) toe. This type of fracture occurs due to an inverting and twisting injury of the ankle and foot causing a small break in the bone, which is common in dancers and athletes.
Typical symptoms are pain, swelling, and bruising to the lateral aspect of the foot as well as difficulty with walking. Other associated conditions with a dancer’s fracture are sesamoiditis, ankle sprains and/or ankle instability. You should see your doctor or podiatrist immediately to best evaluate your condition through a history, physical examination, and imaging studies such as x-rays to confirm the diagnosis of a dancer’s fracture.
Some conservative treatments your doctor may advise are immobilization in a walking boot or crutches and only weight-bearing to a tolerated status. After 6 weeks of the injury, adequate bone healing should occur to transition into stiff sole shoes, but often a full recovery may require 12 weeks or more. Due to the lack of blood supply in location of a dancer’s fracture, there may be a possibility of a non-union where the bones do not heal back together. If the blood supply to the base of the 5thmetatarsal bone is deficient or the bone fracture is displaced, then your doctor may also recommend some surgical options such as placing a compression plate, tension band, or a screw to align and stabilize the fracture site. Your podiatrist may also recommend a bone stimulator to help with the bone healing in a delayed or non-union bone. Early diagnosis and evaluation of a dancer’s fracture is critical for the proper treatment and healing of a 5th metatarsal bone fracture so call your podiatrist today to avoid any long-term complications!
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