Your foot has a total of 26 bones—consisting of tarsals, metatarsals and phalanges. All of the bones in your foot work together, so when just one of them is fractured it can be painful and difficult to walk.
Most foot fractures happen from either a traumatic injury—such as dropping a heavy object on your foot—or an overuse injury, such as running.
In most cases, bone fractures in your foot will heal with rest and do not require surgery.
Fracture from traumatic injury
There are multiple ways to injury your foot or toes and all of them are painful. Your doctor will do an X-ray to determine the type of fracture you have. Different types of fractures include:
- Closed — the skin is not broken.
- Displaced — the end of the broken bone is cracked and the bones have separated.
- Non-displaced — the end of the broken bone is cracked but the bones remain together.
- Open — the skin is broken down to the bone. This is the most serious type of fracture.
Depending on the type of fracture you have, your doctor will recommend specific treatment options.
A common type of injury to the foot is called a stress fracture. A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone that happens after repetitive activity, such as running. It is sometimes called an overuse injury.
If you have osteoporosis, which weakens your bones, you are more at risk for having a stress fracture. It is recommended that you see an orthopaedic surgeon for any foot fracture.
Treating bone fractures in the foot
Many times, fractures in the foot can be treated using the R.I.C.E. method, which includes:
- R: rest
- I: ice
- C: compression
- E: elevation
Your doctor may also recommend the following, depending on the type of fracture you have:
- Casting — a cast will keep your foot from moving while the bones heal and keep any pressure off the foot while it heals.
- Reducing activity level — you may be unable to walk or participate in physical activity at all, or you may need to switch to a lower impact activity, such as swimming.
- Wearing a removable brace — similar to a cast, protective footwear helps keep your foot from moving, but can be removed when you need to swim or bathe.
When a fracture is open and/or displaced, or when a fracture does not heal, surgery is needed. Your surgeon may use pins, screws and plates to hold the bones of your foot in place. You will then need to wear a cast to keep the foot from moving while the bones heal.
Getting back on your feet
The time it typically takes to heal from a bone fracture in the foot, depends on the location and severity of the break. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to resume your normal activities.
If surgery is necessary, our physicians can provide a referral to one of our affiliated orthopaedic surgeons. For more information on surgical options, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.