What is a foot fracture?
A foot fracture is a break in the bone. It can be caused by a variety of things, including but not limited to repetitive stress to the foot, trauma, sports activities, sprains, crushing injuries by dropping something on the foot, and other such injuries. Foot fractures can range in the type and therefore, treatment. They can be all the way through the bone or just partially through. They may not even be visualized in the x-ray if they are minute. They can be displaced, which means the bones have shifted out of place, or they can be comminuted, typically after a crushing injury, where there are many pieces of fractured bone.
How is a foot fracture diagnosed?
A foot fracture is diagnosed both clinically and via the use of diagnostic tools. Clinically, your foot will appear swollen, tender, bruised, and painful to touch and walk. You may or may not experience all of these symptoms. Your doctor will then perform X-rays which will help visualize the bone. Multiple views may be taken to get a complete picture of all of the surfaces. Typically, stress fractures, which form from repetitive trauma, aren’t seen in X-rays until 14 days after an injury. All other types of foot fractures can be visualized immediately. If your doctor is suspicious of a foot fracture but isn’t able to visualize is on X-rays, he or she may order additional testing, such as a CT, bone scan or MRI. This will give the doctor a clear understanding of exactly what is going on within your foot. Typically, these tests are not needed except in cases where the patient is not improving with treatment or if any surgery is required.
How is a foot fracture treated?
Foot fractures are treated according to the type of fracture it is. Mild foot fractures that haven’t moved out of place too much or stress fractures, can be treated conservatively with offloading. Offloading means resting the area, either by cast or special boot/shoe that takes pressure off the affected area. Compression to the area and elevation may be used to help reduce the swelling. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce pain and inflammation. Foot fractures typically take about 6-8 weeks to heal, depending on the type. Your doctor will determine if surgical intervention is necessary to realign and help heal your foot fracture. Typically, in athletes, surgical intervention is usually the best way to ensure the player can go back to his or her full potential in activities. Surgery can involved using a plate or screw to hold the foot fracture fragment close together and provide compression to pull the two fragments tight together.
In the case of week bone, certain vitamins may be suggested to allow better healing. There are special devices to help heal the foot fracture if it won’t heal on it’s own rather then doing surgery. Your doctor will talk to you about all of these options. Call 813-875-0555 if you suspect a foot fracture and let our doctors provide a customized care plan to fit your needs!