What Is It?
Fractures of the foot can come in many different forms. More of the most common types of foot fractures are discussed in their own categories (see Lisfranc, Jones stress, and Calcaneal fractures for more details). Almost a quarter of our bones are in our feet and since we use our feet frequently to bear our weight and move, they are constantly exposed to a lot of forces. Sometimes during extreme activities your bones become overworked and are prone to fracture. That is why athletes and dancers, such as ballerinas, are prone to getting foot fractures. Foot fractures also occur due to sudden sharp movements or as a result of a post traumatic accident, such as a fall or a motor vehicle crash. Post-traumatic breaks tend to be more severe since they are the result of high-impact forces. Calcaneal and Lisfranc fractures are a good example of breaks that can occur due to a high-impact injury. Low-impact injuries result in stress fractures, fractures that occur due to exposure and overuse at the same spot over and over again. Stress fractures are the products of overuse and exceeding too rapidly in physical activity. Pain, bruising, and swelling can be an indication of a foot fracture, though clinical evaluation and x-rays will be needed to confirm the presence of a fracture.
Most types of foot fractures can be treated without surgery. Surgical intervention will be required if the bones become displaced, meaning that are shifted out of their original anatomic position. If a break is stable, then it can be treated conservatively with casting to hold the bones in place while they heal. For forefoot and toe fractures, you may be placed in short-walking cast allowing you to walk in a boot or with minimal amount of weight bearing. Sometimes your doctor may brace the injury without a cast depending on the type of injury. For a break in the toes, your doctor might tape the broken toe to a neighboring good toe to stabilize it. This is known as “buddy-tapping”. If the break in the foot is displaced, then your surgeon will realign the bones and fix them in place using hardware such plates and screws. Recovery time for conservative and surgical treatment can range anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks depending on factors such as the type of injury, age, smoking, and other medical conditions. A patient may be instructed to be non-weight bearing during this period to not expose the break to any unnecessary forces and to allow the bones to heal. Your doctor will tailor make your recovery to fit your type of fracture.
Disclaimer: The information compiled in this guide was taken from sources made available to the public and from consultation with orthopedic surgeons. We are not medical professionals and do not regard ourselves as experts. Always listen to the instructions given by your doctor first and foremost. However, we encourage patient education and recommend that you research your injury further. Your medical institution website may have further useful information. Otherwise please check our list sources for more detailed reading.