Get the 411 on Toe, Foot & Ankle Fractures

by | Jun 14, 2016

Your feet undergo a lot of stress, especially if you work on your feet or play a sport. You may have some success alleviating many conditions affecting the feet on your own. However, some podiatric injuries require professional evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment.

One of the most common serious foot injuries is a fracture. These breakages, which may be particularly small, can occur in the toes, feet, or ankles.

In this blog, we guide you through the basics of this injury type, including its causes, symptoms, and common treatments.

Common Causes of Podiatric Fractures

Almost all fractures affecting the lower limbs and feet result from impact to the bones. This type of fracture, known as a stress fracture, may involve a breakage, hairline crack, or deep bruising in the bone.

Most podiatric fractures occur due to repetitive motions or an abrupt change in daily impacts. You have a high risk of stress fractures if you participate in any of the following:

  • Exercise on a variety of surfaces or of a variety of types
  • High-impact jobs, which range from sales floor positions to deliveries
  • Running sports, including track, soccer, and basketball

Your risks become elevated as you age, especially if you have any condition which weakens bones or take medication which decreases bone density over time.

Symptoms of an Undiagnosed Fracture

Unlike other broken bones, you may not automatically know when you have a foot fracture. However, rapid identification is crucial for these injuries. Continuing to walk, play, or work on an injured foot can increase the severity of the fracture and increase the required rehabilitation time.

Common symptoms of undiagnosed fractures include the following:

  • Discomfort when bearing weight, standing or walking
  • Changes in foot appearance, including deformity, swelling, or bruising
  • Intense throbbing pain at the time of the injury
  • Pain that becomes better with rest and worse with activity
  • Pain when donning or removing your shoes
  • Tenderness and swelling at the injury site

While you could hear or feel a snap at the time of injury, these symptoms do not always indicate the presence of a fracture. These sounds and sensations can also result from ligament and tendon injuries.

Treatments for Fractures Affecting the Feet

When you suspect that you have a foot fracture, schedule a visit with your podiatrist to determine the source of your discomfort as soon as possible. Before your appointment, use cold therapy and elevation to reduce your discomfort.

Treatments for these fractures vary according to the type, location, and severity of the injury. When you visit your podiatrist, he or she may perform a visual and tactile examination for an initial diagnosis. You may also be asked to submit X-rays to pinpoint the injury.

Most podiatric fractures do not require surgery. Your podiatrist will recommend an activity level for six to eight weeks that allows your foot time to heal.

Additionally, your foot health care professional may apply a cast or recommend supportive footwear to protect you from further injury.

If your fracture appeared during a specific activity, your best chance of avoiding re-injury is avoiding the activity in question. Your treatment plan will likely include activity restrictions during your rehabilitation period, but you can also prevent other injuries by modifying your activities in the future.

Use the information in this post to prevent and improve early identification of any fractures you experience.

If you suspect you have an untreated foot fracture, make an appointment at the Advanced Foot & Ankle Centers of Illinois today. The sooner you have a podiatrist assess the damage to your feet, the sooner you can return to running, dancing, and working as you usually do.

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