With 28 bones in the foot, 19 of which are located in the toes (the phalanges and metatarsals), foot fractures are common injuries. It is important for the patient to see a foot and ankle surgeon for proper diagnosis of the injury and the correct treatment even if they were already treated in an emergency room.
Signs and Symptoms of a Foot Fracture
There are two different types of foot fractures, stress fractures and traumatic fractures, and while they are both fractures, they each have different signs and symptoms.
A stress fracture is a tiny, hairline break that is usually a result of repetitive stress being applied to the bone. These are commonly experienced by athletes who increase their running mileage too quickly but they can also result from certain types of foot deformities, an abnormal foot structure, improper footwear, and osteoporosis. Signs and symptoms of a stress fracture include:
- Pain with activities that goes away after resting
- Swelling in the area without bruising
- Pain at the site when pressure is applied
A traumatic fracture is when the bone is broken due to a direct blow or hard impact. The bone can be displaced or non-displaced and in some cases, surgery is required to repair the injury. Signs and symptoms commonly experienced with traumatic foot fractures include:
- Pain at the moment and location of the break (severity of pain can diminish after a few hours)
- An audible “crack” may be heard at the moment of fracture
- Bruising and swelling in the area of the fracture
- Deviation of the toe if the break is in the toe
Why Seeing a Foot and Ankle Surgeon is Essential for Foot Fractures
Some patients cannot distinguish a foot fracture from a sprain and therefore they may decide to forego seeing a specialist. This is a terrible idea that could produce future problems in the affected foot, such as arthritis, chronic pain, long-term dysfunction, a deformity in the foot’s architecture, and other problems.
If you think you may have a foot fracture, keep weight off of the foot and apply ice to the area (no longer than 20 minutes at a time) to help keep swelling under control. Take an aspirin or ibuprofen to help alleviate the pain and call Pennsylvania Foot and Ankle Associates to make an appointment.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Foot Fractures
Most foot fractures can be successfully treated without requiring surgery. Typical conservative treatment options include:
- Short-leg walking cast
- Avoidance of certain activities
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and swelling
When is Surgery Needed?
If non-surgical treatments have proven ineffective or if the fracture is significant, then the foot and ankle surgeon may recommend surgery. This is rare, however, as most fractures heal well when proper conservative treatment is administered.
Regardless of the case, you surgeon at Pennsylvania Foot and Ankle Associates will discuss all of the conservative and surgical treatment options available to you so you can make the most informed decision about your treatment plan.