Foot and ankle bones
A broken foot is a bone injury that can range from minor cracks to piercing breaks. Treatment for a broken foot is determined by the severity of the fracture. A severely broken foot may require surgery to implant plates, rods, or screws.
Symptoms of a Broken Foot
If you have a broken foot, you may experience the following signs and symptoms: Immediate throbbing pain. Pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest. Difficulty walking or bearing weight.
When to see a doctor if you think your foot is broken
If there is an obvious deformity or if pain and swelling do not improve with time, see a doctor.
Common Causes of a Broken Foot
Tripping and falling can break bones in your feet, and the impact of a heavy object on your foot is a common cause of fractures. Sometimes simply putting your foot down incorrectly, such as stubbing your toe on furniture, can result in a broken bone.
If you: Participate in high-impact sports; work in certain occupations; have decreased bone density (osteoporosis); or keep your home cluttered or poorly lit, you may be at a higher risk of breaking your foot or ankle.
Complications from a Broken Foot
A broken foot’s complications are rare, but they can include:. Bone infection (osteomyelitis). Nerve or blood vessel damage. A lack of blood flow can cause a bone to die and collapse. Seek medical help right away if you notice any numbness or circulation problems.
Replace athletic shoes on a regular basis. Alternating activities can help prevent stress fractures. Calcium-rich foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, can really help your body out. Use night lights to avoid walking in the dark.
Diagnosing a Broken Foot
During the physical exam, your doctor will look for tender spots in your foot, move your foot into various positions to assess range of motion, and ask you to walk for a short distance so that your doctor can assess your gait.
Most foot fractures can be seen on X-rays, but stress fractures may not show up until the bone begins to heal. CT and MRI scans can reveal more detail about the bone and soft tissues that surround it, which may aid your doctor in determining the best treatment.
An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), may be recommended by your doctor.
If you’ve broken a bone or ligament in your foot, you’ll probably need to loosen up stiff muscles and ligaments in your feet. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to improve your posture and circulation in your legs, which can help you improve your flexibility and strength.
Surgical and other procedures
If you have a displaced fracture, your doctor may need to manipulate the pieces back into place. A broken bone must be immobilized in order for its ends to knit back together, which usually requires a cast; minor fractures may only require a removable brace, boot, or shoe.
What you can do
Basic questions to ask your doctor about a broken ankle or foot include: What tests are required? What treatments are available, and which do you recommend? If a cast is required, how long will I have to wear it? Will surgery be required? What activity restrictions will be required?
What to do in the meantime
If you have a foot injury, you can treat it at home until you see a doctor. Apply ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, three to four hours apart, to reduce swelling. Wrap the injury in a soft bandage that provides slight compression.
Can you wiggle your toes with a broken foot?
Wiggle your fingers or toes if you can’t tell where they’re broken. If it’s difficult or painful, you might have a break above that point.
Can you break something in your foot and still walk?
Broken bones in the foot cause pain and swelling, and you may be unable to walk as a result. Broken bones in the toes, on the other hand, cause less pain and you may be able to walk with a broken toe. Bruising of the foot is also common with broken bones.
What does a foot fracture feel like?
A stress fracture causes a small, dull pain or a feeling of weakness in the foot at first; most runners will ignore this pain and continue running, worsening the injury. As a stress fracture progresses, the pain becomes sharp, deep, and localized.
Can you walk with a stress fracture in the foot?
Running or even walking on hard surfaces are the worst activities to resume while recovering from a foot or ankle stress fracture because you risk reopening the fracture and having to start the recovery process all over again. Instead, wear comfortable, supportive shoes without a raised heel while recovering.
How do I know if Ive broken a bone in my foot?
You may notice some of the following signs and symptoms if you have a broken foot:
- Immediate, throbbing pain.
- Pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest.
Should I go to ER for broken foot?
The simple answer is that you can go to urgent care for a broken foot. However, if the injury has affected multiple bones in the foot or ankle, or if it is a compound fracture, you should go to the emergency room instead of the urgent care center.
When should you go to the doctor for a foot injury?
If you have severe pain or swelling, an open wound, or a wound that is oozing pus, signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or tenderness in the affected area, or a fever over 100 F (37.8 C), or if you are unable to walk or put weight on your foot, seek medical help right away.
What happens if a fracture is left untreated?
When a bone fracture is left untreated, it can either result in a nonunion or a delayed union. In the former case, the bone does not heal at all, meaning it will remain broken, causing swelling, tenderness, and pain to worsen over time.
What is the easiest bone to break in your foot?
The fifth metatarsal bone is the most commonly fractured metatarsal bone in sudden (acute) foot injury, and it can be broken at any point along its length, depending on the mechanism of injury. The other metatarsal bones can also be broken.
Can a fractured foot heal on its own?
Most fractures in the foot will heal with rest, but some fractures may require surgery. Often, it is the mechanism of injury combined with the severity of pain that prompts the patient to seek medical attention. It is also appropriate to seek medical attention if the patient is unable to walk normally without limping.
How can I tell if I have a stress fracture in my foot?
How do you know if you have a stress fracture?
- Pain, swelling, or aching at the fracture site.
- Tenderness or “pinpoint pain” when touched on the bone.
- Pain that begins after starting an activity and goes away with rest.
- Pain that persists after the activity has ended.
How long will I be off work with a broken foot?
Without surgery, most simple fractures heal in six to eight weeks; severe fractures may require surgery and additional recovery time. Toe fractures are common and usually heal well with little or no therapy.
Do you need a boot for a stress fracture?
Low-risk stress fractures, such as tibial and fibular (shin) stress fractures, and metatarsal stress fractures, usually heal on their own and don’t require any time in a boot or crutches.
Is ice good for a stress fracture?
To reduce swelling and pain, your doctor may recommend applying ice packs to the injured area as needed u2014 15 minutes every three hours. Gradually progress from non-weight-bearing activities, such as swimming, to your regular activities once your doctor gives the OK.