The metatarsus or metatarsal bones are a group of five long bones in the foot located between the tarsal bones of the hind- and mid-foot and the phalanges of the toes. Lacking individual names, the metatarsal bones are numbered from the medial side (side of big toe): the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth metatarsal. The metatarsals are analogous to the metacarpal bones of the hand.
The five metatarsals are dorsally convex long bones that are located in the fingers and/or the toes consisting of a shaft or body, a base, and a head. The body is prismoid in form, tapers gradually from the tarsal to the phalangeal extremity, and is curved longitudinally, so as to be concave below, slightly convex above. The base or posterior extremity is wedge-shaped, articulating proximally with the tarsal bones, and by its sides with the contiguous metatarsal bones: its dorsal and plantar surfaces are rough for the attachment of ligaments. The head or anterior extremity presents a convex articular surface, oblong from above downward, and extending farther backward below than above. Its sides are flattened, and on each is a depression, surmounted by a tubercle, for ligamentous attachment. Its plantar surface is grooved antero-posteriorly for the passage of the flexor tendons, and marked on either side by an articular eminence continuous with the terminal articular surface.
The base of each metatarsal bone articulates with one or more of the tarsal bones at the tarsometatarsal joints, and the head with one of the first row of phalanges at the metatarsophalangeal joints. Their bases also articulates with each others at the intermetatarsal joints
The metatarsal bones are often broken by football players. These and other recent cases have been attributed to the modern lightweight design of football boots, which give less protection to the foot. In 2010 some footballers began trialling a new sock that incorporated a rubber silicon pad over the foot to provide protection to the top of the foot.
The metatarsal bone injury gained notoriety with soccer fans when the then Deportivo La Coruña midfielder Aldo Duscher made a strong tackle on David Beckham breaking his second metatarsal bone and his participation in the 2002 World Cup became doubtful. Beckham eventually made it to the England 2002 World Cup squad. Since then, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Roy Keane, Xabi Alonso and Michael Owen have gone down the same road alongside many others.
Stress fractures are thought to account for 16% of injuries related to sports preparation, and the metatarsals are most often involved. These fractures are commonly called march fractures, as they were commonly diagnosed among military recruits after long marches. The second and third metatarsals are fixed while walking, thus these metatarsals are common sites of injury. The fifth metatarsal may be fractured if the foot is oversupinated during locomotion.
CT 3D human Foot Skin and Bone
Lower extremity
X-ray of foot.
Skeleton of foot. Medial aspect.
Oblique section of left intertarsal and tarsometatarsal articulations, showing the synovial cavities.
Bones of foot


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