Information alert

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This information is for patients who have attended the emergency department with an undisplaced or minimally displaced fracture (broken bone) at the base of your 5th metatarsal.

‘Undisplaced’ means that the broken bone is not out of place.

‘Minimally displaced’ means that the broken bone is not significantly out of place.

Routine follow up is not usually needed for these injuries. The information below provides advice on how to care for your injury and what to expect with your recovery.

Managing pain and swelling

Your injured foot may be swollen. Swelling is often worse at the end of the day or when your foot is hanging down. Resting and elevating the injured foot (with your ankle raised above the level of your hips if possible) will help reduce swelling. Pillows or a stool can be used to keep the foot up. You can take simple pain killers (such as paracetamol) as prescribed. Avoid regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

Cold pack/Ice pack

An ice pack can provide short term pain relief and reduce swelling. If you do not have an ice pack, you can make one by putting ice in a plastic bag and then wrapping this in a clean, damp towel. Apply the ice pack to the sore area for up to 15 minutes, a maximum of 4 times a day, using a clean towel each time. Do not apply the ice pack directly to your skin.


  • Do not use ice if you have poor circulation, or problems with sensation
  • Beware of putting ice over your finger tips and toes
  • Do not leave ice on for too long as it can burn or reduce your circulation
  • Check the skin regularly.


You can take your weight through the foot as comfort allows, wearing the aircast boot if one was given to you in the emergency department. You should wear the boot when you are walking, you do not need to wear the boot at rest. You should remove your boot when you are sleeping.

You can start to wean out of the boot as pain allows. You may find it more comfortable to wear a stiff soled walking shoe or a trainer when you stop wearing the boot.

Early movement of the ankle and foot is important to promote circulation and reduce the risk of developing a DVT (blood clot in the leg).

Exercises can help the healing process and ensure your ankle and foot do not become too stiff. You can repeat the gentle ankle and foot range-of-movement exercises provided in this leaflet, as comfort allows, 3-4 times a day over the first 6 weeks following your injury.

If you have increased pain or worsening symptoms, you should stop the exercise and seek further advice from your doctor.

Ankle and foot exercises

Each exercise can be completed 5-10 times, as comfort allows. In a seated position, or when resting in bed, with your legs outstretched in front of you, make sure your heels are not in contact with any surface. Point your foot up and down within a comfortable range of movement. When comfortable, you can gently bend and straighten your toes as pain allows.


This type of injury normally takes about 6 weeks to heal. In some cases, pain and swelling can be ongoing for 3 months. Smoking and regular non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Brufen, Naproxen or Diclofenac) can delay healing and should be avoided. For advice on stopping smoking please refer to the following website or discuss this with your GP.

At 6-12 weeks

You can begin to resume normal, day-to-day activities but should be guided by any pain you experience. Heavy tasks and long walks may still cause some discomfort and swelling. You may return to non-impact exercises such as cycling at 6 weeks, and impact exercises from 12 weeks, or earlier if comfortable. If you are experiencing ongoing pain and swelling at this stage, please seek medical advice from your GP.

UCLH Fracture Clinic
Tel: 020 3447 5042
Switchboard: 020 3456 7890
Extension: 75042
Address: Fracture Clinic,
Trauma & Orthopaedics,
Surgical Specialities Division,
Ground Floor Central,
250 Euston Road, London,

Page last updated: 03 May 2024

Review due: 01 February 2025