A foot fracture refers to a break in your bone. Fractures can happen due to various reasons, such as sports activities or motor vehicle accidents. These injuries are often caused by repeated stress or trauma. Symptoms of foot fractures typically include pain, swelling, deformity, and the inability to walk or put weight on the foot. At Flint Foot and Ankle, our team can diagnose and provide treatment for this type of injury.
What is a Foot Fracture?
A foot fracture is typically the result of repeated stress or trauma. Fractures usually require significant force, and breaking the bones in the hindfoot is particularly difficult. Among foot fractures, the most common type is known as a stress fracture. Stress fractures, also referred to as overuse injuries, happen when repetitive activities cause the bones to break or crack.
The anatomy of the foot contains 26 bones divided into three sections: the forefoot, hindfoot, and midfoot. The forefoot consists of the toe bones (phalanges) and five metatarsal bones. Specifically, there are 14 bones in the toes. The midfoot contains three cuneiform bones, the navicular bone, and the cuboid bone. The hindfoot is made up of two bones–the calcaneus and talus.
The midtarsal joint separates the hindfoot from the midfoot, while the Lisfranc joint separates the midfoot from the forefoot.
In addition to the bones, the foot also contains strong ligaments, tendons, and muscles that provide support to the joints and bones. These structures are crucial for bearing our body weight and maintaining stability in the foot.
Foot Fracture Types
Foot fractures can affect various bones and joints, and they are classified into different types.
Calcaneal fractures involve the heel bone and usually caused by falls. These fractures can be particularly disabling, especially when they affect the subtalar joint.
Talar fractures refer to fractures of the talus bone, which is responsible for transferring weight and force across the joint. These fractures commonly occur at the mid-point or neck of the talus bone. This bone typically requires tremendous force to break.
Navicular fractures are relatively rare and often present as stress fractures. They are most frequently seen in sports such as running and gymnastics due to the repetitive loading on the foot.
Midfoot fractures are also caused typically by falls or a twisting type mechanism. These types of fractures may also be related to repeated stress at the midfoot.
Each of these fractures requires proper diagnosis and treatment to ensure optimal healing and recovery.
Foot fractures frequently happen as a result of various causes, including overuse during sports activities, accidental impacts from heavy objects, falls, or involvement in motor vehicle accidents. These events can subject the foot to excessive force or trauma, leading to fractures in the bones.
The common symptoms of a foot fracture include bruising, swelling, deformity, tenderness, pain, and difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected foot.
In addition to the mentioned symptoms, there can be several other signs indicating a foot fracture. These may include:
- Limited range of motion: A person with a foot fracture may experience difficulty moving their foot or toes as freely as before the injury.
- Numbness or tingling: Some individuals may experience numbness or a tingling sensation in the foot or toes, which can be a result of nerve injury or swelling.
- Visible bone displacement: In severe cases, where the fracture causes significant displacement of the bones, it may be visible through the skin or result in an obvious deformity.
- Difficulty wearing shoes: Swelling and pain can make it challenging to put on shoes or wear them comfortably.
- Pain that worsens with activity: The pain associated with a foot fracture often intensifies during activities that involve weight-bearing or movement of the foot.
- Ecchymosis (skin discoloration): Along with bruising, the affected area may show signs of ecchymosis, which is the appearance of darkened or discolored patches on the skin.
If any of these symptoms are present, it is important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment of the foot fracture.
Foot fractures can be diagnosed by doctors through a comprehensive process. The doctor will begin by taking into account the patient’s medical history and conducting a thorough physical examination of the foot. Your physician will also have X-rays taken. However, in some cases, further imaging tests such as CT scan or an MRI may be required. These imaging techniques are essential for confirming the presence of a fracture. It is worth noting that diagnosing navicular fractures and complex midfoot fractures can be particularly challenging without the aid of proper imaging methods.
The treatment for foot fractures varies depending on the specific type of fracture. For nondisplaced fractures or those that have not shifted significantly, nonsurgical approaches are often employed, including rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). Splinting and immobilizing the foot may also be necessary.
In more severe cases such as when the fracture has displaced or moved significantly, surgery may be required to realign the fractured bones and reconstruct any affected joints. In such instances, plates and screws are typically used to hold the bone fragments together to maintain alignment and assist with healing.
Physical therapy is often recommended as part of the treatment plan for foot fractures. It can aid in regaining strength in the foot muscles and improving range of motion. Gradual reintroduction of weight-bearing activities is advised, and the use of assistive devices such as canes or walking boots can be beneficial.
If you suspect you have a foot fracture, Flint Foot and Ankle Institute is an excellent resource. The experienced team, including Dr. Wesley Flint at Flint Foot and Ankle Institute can assist you throughout the entire process, from diagnosis to treatment, including surgical intervention if necessary.