What is a foot fracture?

Twenty-six bones reside in each foot, and it is not uncommon for one of those bones to break or fracture as the result of overuse or injury. Imagine the stress that is placed on the feet each day, and you can understand the risk to these bones. Fractures of the feet can be one of three types: stress, shattering, or avulsion breaks. They typically affect the toes, mid-foot region, and the heel.

Stress breaks occur when excess pressure is placed on a bone over time until it develops a small crack. Often termed, “hairline fractures,” the bone does not actually separate. These types of break are often seen in the heel, on the middle-top of the foot, and in the second and third toes.

Athletes are especially prone to this type of injury, because of the extreme amount of force that they place on their feet. Changes in the amount of training, the intensity level, and the practice surface are top reasons that are noted for stress fractures.

Avulsion fractures in the foot involve not only the bone but also the tendon. This type is often seen in the bone on the outside of the foot that connects the small toe, and occurs when stress on the tendon literally pulls off a small piece of bone. The strain on that area is usually the result of a rolled ankle.

Acute fractures occur when something directly impacts the bone resulting in a separation. One example would be dropping something heavy on your foot. This type of break is categorized as either displaced or non-displaced, which identifies whether or not the position of the bone has been changed as a result of the injury. In extreme cases, the bone can actually be shattered.

How do I know if a bone is broken?

Stress fractures may be harder to detect than the other types, because it is an overuse injury and not associated with one event. You may experience gradual pain and swelling in the affected area. The discomfort may ease after resting the affected foot, so sometimes people delay treatment. Tenderness and bruising are also common. If you experience symptoms for more than a couple of days, you should see your doctor to find out if a stress break has occurred. If left to heal untreated, fractures of any type can permanently affect your foot mechanics.

Avulsion and acute fractures are often associated with an event, and may be even be accompanied by an auditory cue that something has happened (a popping or snapping sound). Symptoms will be similar, although the pain will most likely be sudden and severe enough that weight bearing will be difficult.

How will the doctor treat a broken bone in the foot?

Podiatrist Lawrence Kales will conduct a physical exam, and may use imaging technology such as x-ray to determine if a break has occurred. This picture of the affected area will also tell the doctor the location and type of fracture that has occurred.

Treatment will depend on the results. Pain medications, immobilization, and sometimes surgery are necessary to treat breaks in the toes and forefoot. Surgery is required when displaced bones must be repositioned for proper healing. In all cases, resting the foot will be very important.

Have you injured your toes or foot? Are you in pain? Call the Hudson or Spring Hill, FL office of Podiatrist Kales to make an appointment today. Ignoring foot pain can have lasting, negative effects on the health of your feet. Podiatrist Kales and his friendly staff are here to make sure that your feet are ready for your next adventure!