Auteur: Podiatre Montreal
Foot fractures are quite common in both adults and children. The foot is composed of 26 bones and when one of these bones is affected, it is called a fracture. Fractures can involve several parts of the foot such as the toes, ankle, heel, but also the central bones called metatarsal fractures… They are mainly caused by a harmless fall, a twisting of the foot or simply a blow and will result in significant pain. Fractures of the top of the foot or any other fracture are more common among athletes and mainly runners because of the pressure exerted on their feet.
Although a fracture of a bone such as the heel or ankle is easily recognizable, a metatarsal foot fracture will be much more difficult to determine, which is why we advise you to go to a specialized clinic to consult a health professional who will assess the severity of your fracture.
Causes and diagnosis of foot fracture
The human foot is therefore a well-oiled machine, capable of resisting large shocks and pressure blows, but in some cases the foot may not hold and injuries may occur. Pain in the foot should therefore be monitored, as it can lead to various fractures such as a fracture of the toe, an ankle fracture, a heel fracture, or a fracture on the top of the foot of the metatarsal bones.
But what can cause a foot fracture? A road accident, a fall from a great height, or the practice of a sporting activity. In some cases, it is not even necessary for the shock or fall to be violent to cause a painless foot fracture. This is why it is not always easy to recognize a broken foot from a crack in the foot bone or a sprain. Even more so when it involves a sprained ankle. You will need to be alert for signs that may point you towards a broken ankle, a sprain or a broken foot bone whether it is on the top, outside or side.
When significant pain occurs with difficulty walking or using your foot, you will need to have a diagnosis of a foot fracture by a qualified physician. He or she will need to assess the severity of your injury and determine which ankle or foot bone is involved. Several symptoms will lead to a validation of the fracture: an open wound caused by the broken bone, a deformation of the affected foot area, a cracking sound and swelling of the area, an inability to move your foot without causing severe pain. There are also fatigue fractures of the foot that can lead to complications.
For greater efficiency, a specialized doctor such as a Podiatrist may request an x-ray of the foot to evaluate whether it is a fracture of the outer side of the foot, the heel, or a fracture of the 5th metatarsal of the foot for example.
The different types of foot fractures
There are several types of foot fractures not to be confused with a bone crack or sprain. Here is a summary of the different bones that can be affected:
- A fracture of the ankle bone or talus that can be quite serious and will usually require surgery.
- An ankle fracture, on the other hand, is much more common, but will need to be treated by immobilizing the ankle.
- Achilles heel fracture, calcaneal fracture or so-called stress fracture of the foot often caused by a large shock to the heel.
- The fracture of the dancer or the 5th metatarsal is therefore a fracture of the bone behind the 5th toe. It is called a “dancer’s fracture” because the 5th metatarsal is often affected in this activity. The reason for this is the fairly long holding of the pointe position.
- Fatigue fracture of the metatarsus of the foot or walking fracture is a broken upper of the foot. It mainly concerns people with a high level of activity.
- Navicular bone fracture is a fracture of the bone on the inside of the foot. It is a fracture that is not very painful and may be recognizable by a small pain in the middle of the foot, increased during the practice of a sport. In this type of fracture, it may be advisable to wear fracture walking boots or orthoses after healing.
Fractured toes are not very disabling, but they will have to be treated every time, as they can then cause problems in the long term.
Foot fracture treatment and surgery
It is important to take a foot fracture seriously, as many complications can occur as a result of not treating it. An untreated foot fracture can lead to many chronic problems over the long term. But can you walk with a foot fracture? The answer is yes! It depends on the bone of the foot concerned. In any case, an X-ray will be necessary to diagnose the broken foot. The treatment will depend on the fractured bone, as the treatment of a heel fracture will be different from that of a fracture of the 5th metatarsal. A fatigue fracture of the foot will only require natural treatment with plenty of rest.
Will the foot have to be plastered each time? Not necessarily, in some cases wearing a foot fracture boot or a splint will be sufficient. On the other hand, it will be forbidden to put your foot down or lean on it until the fracture is fully healed, but it is recommended to move your foot or ankle as soon as possible. It will also be possible for the doctor to prescribe a physiotherapist for re-education.
What is the healing time for a foot fracture and how long will it take to walk after a fracture? This will depend on the treatment and the duration of the rehabilitation. For example, for an ankle fracture the recovery time will be longer. For other fractures, surgery will be necessary, although in all cases foot surgery is quite rare in this type of case.
In order to determine which is the best adapted treatment and which fracture you suffer from, we strongly advise you to go to a specialized clinic and to consult a Podiatrist. Contact us today to make an appointment at our clinic in Montreal.