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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.