What is a foot fracture?
Each foot is made up of 26 bones that work together to support the body’s weight and perform many everyday movements. When you fall or experience any traumatic injury involving the foot, you are susceptible to fracturing, or breaking, one or more of the bones in the foot. Foot fractures can vary in severity, ranging from tiny cracks, or stress fractures, to complete breaks. One of the most common types of foot fractures occurs in the long bones just behind the toes, also known as the metatarsals.
What causes a foot fracture?
A foot fracture, also known as a broken foot, occurs when one or more of the bones that make up the foot are broken. A fracture can result from many types of accidents or injuries, but the most common causes include falls, car accidents, sports injuries and missteps. In addition, impact from a heavy object falling on the foot as well as overuse can also lead to fractures.
What are the symptoms of a foot fracture?
If your foot is fractured, you will likely experience:
- A sharp pain in the foot
- Pain that worsens with activity
- Difficulty walking and standing on the injured foot
You may feel or hear a snapping sensation at the time of the injury, however, that does not necessarily mean you have experienced a fracture.
What are the risk factors for a foot fracture?
There are several factors that can increase your risk for a foot fracture:
- Physical conditions – conditions including osteoporosis, the female athlete triad and decreased sensation in the feet make you more prone to breaking a bone in the foot
- Sports involvement – participation in high-impact sports that may involve repeated stress, twisting or hits to the foot (e.g. soccer, skiing, football, hockey and gymnastics) increases your chances of a foot fracture
- Sudden increase in activity – a rapid increase in the amount of stress exerted on the foot in sports or other activities puts you at a higher risk
- Improper sports equipment and technique – using equipment that isn’t fitted properly or is used incorrectly can lead to injuries including falls and stress fractures
- Occupational hazards – jobs that involve working with machinery or other heavy objects increase the odds that you may experience an facture-causing impact injury
What are the treatment options for a foot fracture?
If you are experiencing pain, swelling or tenderness in the foot, call our office or fill out the schedule appointment form on this page so Dr. Mohammad Al-Shouli can evaluate and treat your injury as soon as possible. It is important to seek medical evaluation for any injury that does not improve within 2-3 days, especially if you are not able to bear weight on the injured foot.
Treatment options for a foot fracture will depend upon the location and severity of the fracture.
Nonsurgical treatment options may involve:
A foot fracture commonly requires a manipulation procedure called reduction wherein the doctor repositions the broken bone so it will heal properly.
A cast or another type of splint is almost always required for a broken foot in order to immobilize the broken bone(s) and enable proper healing.
TAKING ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATIONS
Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can considerably reduce pain. If necessary, Dr. Katchis may prescribe a stronger medication to lessen your discomfort.
APPLYING ICE & ELEVATING THE LEG
Applying ice to the injured area and elevating the leg will help reduce pain and swelling.
After a broken bone has healed, proper rehabilitation is often necessary to loosen stiff muscles and regain strength in the surrounding ligaments.
Foot fracture surgery may be required if nonsurgical treatments will not prove effective, particularly in cases of more severe fractures, including those with multiple broken bones. The surgical procedure may involve Dr. Al-Shouli inserting special pins that stabilize the broken bones and hold them in the proper place during healing. Foot fracture surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis and the foot will be immobilized using a cast after it is completed.
What does the recovery process entail?
With both nonsurgical and surgical treatment, physical therapy is an essential part of the recovery process. Dr. Mohammad Al-Shouli will recommend that patients begin rehabilitation once the bone(s) show signs of significant healing. Physical therapy will help loosen up stiff foot muscles and rebuild strength in the surrounding ligaments.