AskDefine | Define metatarsus

Dictionary Definition

metatarsus n : the skeleton of the human foot between the toes and the tarsus; the corresponding part of the foot in birds or of the hind foot in quadrupeds [also: metatarsi (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary




metatarsus (plural metatarsi)
  1. The five bones that form the intermediate part of the foot between the toes and the ankle.

Derived terms


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Extensive Definition

The metatarsus consists of the five long bones of the foot, which are numbered from the medial side (ossa metatarsalia I.-V.); each presents for examination a body and two extremities. These are analogous to the metacarpals of the hand.

Common characteristics of the metatarsal bones

  • 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, and the head with one of the first row of phalanges.
  • The first metatarsal articulates with the first cuneiform.
  • the second with all three cuneiforms.
  • the third with the third cuneiform.
  • the fourth with the third cuneiform and the cuboid.
  • The fifth with the cuboid.


The metatarsal bones are often broken by soccer players. These and other recent cases have been attributed to the modern lightweight design of football boots, which give less protection to the foot.
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 are commonly diagnosed among military recruits after long marches. They are also common among road runners, and even skimboarders. 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.

Additional images

Image:CT 3D human Foot Skin and Bone.jpeg|CT 3D human Foot Skin and Bone Image:Illu lower extremity.jpg|Lower extremity


External links

metatarsus in Aragonese: Metatarso
metatarsus in German: Mittelfußknochen
metatarsus in Spanish: Metatarso
metatarsus in French: Métatarse
metatarsus in Italian: Metatarso
metatarsus in Hebrew: עצמות המסרק (כף רגל)
metatarsus in Latin: Metatarsus
metatarsus in Dutch: Middenvoetsbeen
metatarsus in Dutch Low Saxon: Middenvoutsbain
metatarsus in Polish: Śródstopie
metatarsus in Portuguese: Metatarso
metatarsus in Russian: Плюсна
metatarsus in Slovenian: Stopalnica
metatarsus in Finnish: Jalkapöydän luu
metatarsus in Ukrainian: Плесно
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