Original Research| Volume 51, ISSUE 6, P720-728, November 2012

Effects of Foot Posture on Fifth Metatarsal Fracture Healing: A Finite Element Study

Published:September 17, 2012DOI:


      The goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of maintaining different foot postures during healing of proximal fifth metatarsal fractures for each of 3 common fracture types. A 3-dimensional (3D) finite element model of a human foot was developed and 3 loading situations were evaluated, including the following: (1) normal weightbearing, (2) standing with the affected foot in dorsiflexion at the ankle, and (3) standing with the affected foot in eversion. Three different stages of the fracture-healing process were studied, including: stage 1, wherein the material interposed between the fractured edges was the initial connective tissue; stage 2, wherein connective tissue had been replaced by soft callus; and stage 3, wherein soft callus was replaced by mature bone. Thus, 30 3D finite element models were analyzed that took into account fracture type, foot posture, and healing stage. Different foot postures did not statistically significantly affect the peak-developed strains on the fracture site. When the fractured foot was everted or dorsiflexed, it developed a slightly higher strain within the fracture than when it was in the normal weightbearing position. In Jones fractures, eversion of the foot caused further torsional strain and we believe that this position should be avoided during foot immobilization during the treatment of fifth metatarsal base fractures. Tuberosity avulsion fractures and Jones fractures seem to be biomechanically stable fractures, as compared with shaft fractures. Our understanding of the literature and experience indicate that current clinical observations and standard therapeutic options are in accordance with the results that we observed in this investigation, with the exception of Jones fractures.

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