Metatarsal bones

The metatarsal bones, or metatarsus 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 the side of the great toe: the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth metatarsal often depicted with Roman numerals The metatarsals are analogous to the metacarpal bones of the hand The lengths of the metatarsal bones in humans are, in descending order: second, third, fourth, fifth and first[1]


  • 1 Structure
    • 11 Articulations
    • 12 Muscle attachments
  • 2 Clinical significance
    • 21 Injuries
  • 3 Additional images
  • 4 See also
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


The five metatarsals are dorsally convex long bones consisting of a shaft or body, a base proximally, and a head distally[2] 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 distal 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[3]


Bones of the right foot Dorsal surface Metatarsus shown in yellow latin terminology

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 articulate with each other at the intermetatarsal joints

  • The first metatarsal articulates with the medial cuneiform, and to a small extent to the intermediate cuneiform[4]
  • the second with all three cuneiforms[4]
  • the third with the lateral cuneiform[4]
  • the fourth with the lateral cuneiform and the cuboid[4]
  • The fifth with the cuboid[4]

Muscle attachments

Muscle attachments seen from above Muscle attachments seen from below
Muscle Direction Attachment[5]
Tibialis anterior Insertion Basis of first metatarsal
Peroneous tertius Insertion Dorsal side basis of fifth metatarsal
Peroneous longus Insertion Tuberosity of first metatarsal
Peroneous brevis Insertion Tuberosity of fifth metatarsal
Horizontal head of adductor hallucis Origin Deep transverse metatarsal ligament
Flexor digiti minimi brevis Origin Basis of fifth metatarsal
Plantar interossei Origin Medial side of third, fourth and fifth metatarsal
Dorsal interossei Origin First to fifth metatarsal

Clinical significance


Fracture of the base of the 5th metatarsal Safety footwear with removable metatarsal guard

The metatarsal bones are often broken by association football players These and other recent cases have been attributed to the lightweight design of modern football boots, which provide less protection to the foot In 2010 some soccer players began testing a new sock that incorporated a rubber silicon pad over the foot to provide protection to the top of the foot[6]Stress fractures are thought to account for 16% of injuries related to sports participation, and the metatarsals are the bones most often involved These fractures are sometimes called march fractures, based on their traditional association with 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[7]

Protection from injuries can be given by the use of safety footwear which can use built-in or removable metatarsal guards

Additional images

See also

  • Arches of the foot
  • Bone terminology
  • Terms for anatomical location


  1. ^ Bojsen-Møller, Finn; Simonsen, Erik B; Tranum-Jensen, Jørgen 2001 Bevægeapparatets anatomi [Anatomy of the Locomotive Apparatus] in Danish 12th ed p 246 ISBN 978-87-628-0307-7 
  2. ^ Platzer 2004, p 220
  3. ^ Gray's 1918, 6d 2 The Metatarsus
  4. ^ a b c d e Platzer 2004, p 218
  5. ^ Bojsen-Møller, Finn; Simonsen, Erik B; Tranum-Jensen, Jørgen 2001 Bevægeapparatets anatomi [Anatomy of the Locomotive Apparatus] in Danish 12th ed pp 364–367 ISBN 978-87-628-0307-7 
  6. ^ Bill, Mills 11 December 2010 "Sock boffs may have cured metatarsal woes for Rooney and Co" wwwmirrorfootballcouk Retrieved 12 December 2010 
  7. ^ Perron, Andrew D 2005-11-23 "Metatarsal Stress Fracture" Retrieved 2007-09-13 


  • Platzer, Werner 2004 Color Atlas of Human Anatomy, Vol 1: Locomotor System 5th ed Thieme ISBN 3-13-533305-1 
  • Gray, Henry 1918 "6d 2 The Metatarsus" Anatomy of the Human Body Bartlebycom 

External links

  • Anatomy figure: 16:01-05 at Human Anatomy Online, SUNY Downstate Medical Center

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