Inside the injury No.1 - Metatarsal break - Manchester City FC

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Inside the injury 2 of 1
Season 2010/11

Inside the Injury: Metatarsal fracture

  • 07 February 2011 13:08
  • Posted by David Clayton

Ever wondered exactly what certain medical terms are regarding footballer injuries but have been too afraid to ask? Can you tell a fibula from a tibia?

After you go Inside the Injury with City’s Club Doctor Jamie Butler, you’ll almost be ready for medical school! Well, almost…

Here, Dr Butler explains how players’ injuries are diagnosed, investigated and treated...


“With a metatarsal injury you have an index of suspicion – that means you go looking for it. With any pain in the mid-foot area, your first concern has to be that it is a metatarsal problem.

“There are other things it could be such as soft tissue injury, but by tracing back to how the problem originally arose, we get a good idea of what may have happened. Inability to weight-bear on the foot would immediately set the alarm bells ringing for me.”

Inside the Injury 2 of 2


“After examining the foot and looking for point tenderness, initially we would put ice on sensitive are and maybe a cast to protect the foot from further damage.

If there is still pain the next day, the next step is an X-ray, though this doesn’t always show fractures, particularly stress fractures, and the result can look normal

...Dr Jamie Butler

“If I suspect a break despite the X-rays, I may ask for a CT scan or an MRI scan which both have strengths in particular areas and will help me build up a body of evidence.”


“If it is an acute metatarsal fracture, it would be treated as any normal fracture in that you would immobilise the player, administer pain relief and put an air cast boot and advise them on what they can and can’t do – there can be no weight-bearing, for instance.

“The bone will heal with rest and will optimise the process with various injections, calcium and vitamin B supplements, and ultrasound and also use hypobaric oxygen chambers to stimulate bone growth.

“Some cases – such as double fractures – require surgery, but we try to avoid that if possible. A fracture will normally heal in six to eight weeks and though it can’t be rushed, we aim to get the players back to full fitness as quickly as it is feasibly possible.

“We also have to work out why the injury occurred and if we can prevent it happening again in the future.”

Dr Butler is happy to advise supporters who think they may have a metatarsal problem. Email him at and he will get back to you in person.

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