Authors of section


Khairul Faizi Mohammad, Brad Yoo

Executive Editors

Markku T Nousiainen, Richard Buckley

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Proximal articular fractures of the 1st to 4th metatarsal


These injuries include partial and complete articular fractures of proximal metatarsals 1-4.

They are classified as follows: 

  • Partial articular (AO/OTA 87.1–4.1B)
  • Complete articular (AO/OTA 87.1–4.1C)

where 1–4 indicates which metatarsal is injured.

The fractures may also be simple (a) or multifragmentary (b).

Proximal partial and complete articular fractures of a metatarsal

Clinical presentation

The following clinical presentation is typical:

  • The patient describes an acute trauma with immediate pain and difficulty in weight-bearing
  • The foot progressively exhibits swelling and ecchymosis
  • The damaged area is very painful to palpation and weight-bearing
  • Deformities may not be appreciated
  • Sensation can be disrupted, particularly plantarly
  • Open fractures will have draining wounds
  • Vascular compromise is uncommon


Conventional radiographs of the foot (AP and lateral oblique views) are sufficient for diagnosis and treatment. 

CT scans are invaluable for clarification of the fracture pattern and assessing additional fractures of the midfoot.

Mechanism of injury

Fractures may be created with multiple mechanisms:

  • Axial
  • Bending
  • Torsion
  • Combined trauma

They may involve either high- or low-energy mechanisms.

High-energy mechanism injuries are often associated with midfoot instability (Lisfranc instability).

Associated injuries

Compartment syndrome and Lisfranc injuries should always be suspected.

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