Foot Fractures: Breaking Down the Feet
There are, collectively, more than 50 bones located in your two feet—fully one quarter of your body’s entire supply.
These bones don’t have easy jobs, either. Some have to be tough enough to support the full impact force of your body during exercise. Others are responsible for keeping you mobile. And they all play a key role in being your body’s foundation!
Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that foot fractures are a common issue.
Common or not, you’ll want any broken bone in your foot treated as quickly as possible. If you continue to add weight and pressure on a fracture, it can rearrange the position of bone fragments and magnify the damage in a hurry.
Not sure if you have one or need to know what kind of break you’ve sustained? We have more information for you on this page.
What types of foot fractures are there?
Breaks come in many shapes and sizes, varying by location and severity:
- Stress fractures are tiny cracks in bones, usually caused by constant overuse from high-impact activity. Having one is like having a tiny crack in your windshield that grows a just a little bit bigger after every bump in the road. Although not as dramatic as a “full” break, stress fractures are serious injuries that take time to heal properly.
If this type of fracture is caught early, it may take 2-4 weeks to heal. If it becomes advanced, you may have a 6- to 8-week healing time. Continuing to put stress on these cracks can quickly undo any healing that’s already taken place, or even make the problem worse.
- Closed, full fractures are injuries where the bone has noticeably broken (often from a single traumatic injury, rather than overuse) and may be out of alignment, but not so much that it has broken the skin.
It is critical that a fracture in the foot heals in its original position to reduce long-term problems. If the bones in a joint move more than 1mm, it will create arthritis down the road. Because of this, even broken toes should be treated properly by a podiatrist.
- Dislocations are when joints separate (instead of the bone breaking). This is apparent when the foot is pointing north, and a toe is point east. Sometimes a broken bone has fewer complications and quicker healing time than when there is a lot of soft tissue damage.
- Open (or compound) fractures are, for obvious reasons, typically the most dangerous and traumatic type, as they occur when bone pierces surrounding soft tissues and skin. Immediate emergency care is necessary to slow blood loss, prevent infection, prevent nerve damage, and repair the injury.
The ankle is probably the most common location for a broken bone in the lower limbs, but just about any bone is susceptible, including your toes, forefoot (also known as metatarsal fractures), midfoot (also known as Lisfranc fractures), and even your heel.
Some breaks will be obvious, but others might not be. A hairline crack or stress fracture may feel like a moderate-level pain, while a broken ankle may masquerade as a bad sprain.
Why is early treatment important for broken foot bones?
Any tissue in the body that is white (bones, tendon, ligaments) has little blood flow and therefore takes a long time to heal.
Something else that highlights the importance of early treatment for any kind of broken foot bone is this:
Your feet do more than just hold up the full weight of your body. When you take a step or your foot lands when running, the impact force delivered to your feet is amplified to 2-4 times your body weight. As you can imagine, continuing to apply that kind of force to a broken bone can have disastrous consequences.
If you can’t feel any pain in your feet, and your bones aren’t getting enough nourishment from your circulatory system, crumbling bones and severe deformity can result. But even relatively minor injuries in people with healthy nervous systems can suffer consequences from delays in treatment.
Get the care you need today!
The best results are achieved when the fracture is addressed immediately.
If you suspect a bone is broken, get off your feet right away, then give our office a call for emergency care. After a thorough examination, Dr. Leibovitz will help you determine the best course of action.
Not every break will require surgery!
If there are multiple options available, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each, give our recommendation, and help you make the best choice for your situation.
Remember, it’s not always obvious that you’ve broken a bone in your foot, especially if you suffer from nerve damage or can’t remember an obvious traumatic injury. If you’re suffering from acute or chronic foot pain, whether or not you suspect a broken bone, call our office as soon as possible. You can reach us online or by calling (317) 545-0505.