A break in one or more of the bones of the foot is called a fracture. It could happen due to a trauma, like a fall, accident or an injury. There are two kinds of fractures:
- Compound or open fracture – In this kind of fracture, the bone may break through the skin, it could break in more than one place or more than one bone may be broken.This is also called a multiple fracture.
- Simple or closed fracture – The bone does not come through the skin and it is a single break.
Usually, a fracture would need a cast, a splint or a constricting orthotic footwear. In severe breaks, there may be need for surgery. The kind of surgery will depend on the location of the break and the severity of the fracture.
Types of foot and ankle Fractures
There are different types of foot fractures.
- Fractures of the ankle joint – These can be quite severe and very often surgery may be needed. One may need to wear a cast for several weeks or more.
- Fractures of the metatarsal – The metatarsal bones are located at the bottom of the foot and are prone to stress fractures. The foot may not need a cast, but usually, an orthotic shoe is worn to protect the foot till it heals.
- Sesamoid bone fractures– The sesamoid bone is located under the big toe and is also prone to stress fractures. Orthotic shoes or toe splints may be used to hold it in place till it heals.
- Toe fractures Stress fractures are common on the toes, especially among people who have osteoporosis. It may need an orthotic shoe for protection till the bones set.
What is a Stress Fracture?
Stress fractures occur when pressure is placed on the weak points of the feet. They are a common injury in people who have osteoporosis, and in the elderly who may have weaker and more brittle bones. It also occurs quite often among athletes who over exercise and train for sports that involve a lot of running, like athletics, basketball, football, etc. The bones of the midfoot, the metatarsals, are especially vulnerable to stress fractures, in runners.
How do you know that you have had a Fracture?
The most common signs of a fracture are:
- Bone looks out of joint.
- A snapping or breaking sound when the injury happens.
- Bruising and tenderness around the injured area.
- Inability to put weight on the feet.
- Area is sensitive to touching or pressing.
- Dizziness due to shock.
Some of the above symptoms may also manifest after a severe ankle sprain, and other times,a hairline stress fracture may cause only mild pain. In either case, it is better to get medical help as soon as possible. An X-ray is the best way to check whether the bone is broken.
First aid for a fracture
In case of a fracture, emergency care may be necessary before medical help arrives. There are certain do’s and don’ts.Do’s
- Stop the bleeding if necessary
- Control swelling with ice packs.
- Elevate feet
- Get medical help immediately.
- If the bone is pushing through, don’t touch it.
- Do not try to put a bandage or footwear on the injured area.
- Try not to put weight on the injured foot.
If it looks like a fracture, call for an ambulance immediately. The injured person may need emergency medical care.The faster that proper medical help is given, the better for the injured person. Rehabilitation and physical therapy may be given later to aid in the patient’s complete recovery.