Broken bones, often referred to by healthcare professionals as fractures, are very common, especially when it comes to the bones in the feet. Actually, out of every ten broken bones suffered, at least one of them will be in the foot.
This makes sense even without taking into account all of the stress and pressure placed on the feet. Humans are born with 270 bones. As the body matures, these original 270 bones fuse to become between 206 and 213 bones. The human foot is comprised of 26 bones, so a quarter of all of the bones in the body are in the feet.
The foot can be divided into three main parts; the forefoot, midfoot and hindfoot. The bones in each part include:
- Forefoot – the 19 bones in the forefoot include 5 metatarsals, one connecting to each toe and a total of 14 phalanges, 2 in the big toe and 3 in each of the other toes.
- Midfoot – the 5 bones in the midfoot, the tarsals, are the bridge between the heel and the toes and also form the arch. They are the cuboid, the navicular and the medial, intermediate and lateral cuneiforms.
- Hindfoot – there are 2 bones in the hindfoot; the calcaneus (heel bone) and the talus. The talus sits directly above the calcaneus and is the meeting point of the foot and the ankle.
Causes of Foot Fractures
Bones in the foot can be broken in any number of ways. Sometimes all it takes is simply taking a step a little off balance. And who hasn’t experienced the pain of catching a toe on the edge of a piece of furniture? Some of the most common causes of foot fractures include:
- Trips and falls – the trauma of a fall in which you land with extra force on one or both feet can result in a fracture, even from lesser heights. The same is true of tripping over objects which often results in trauma to a foot.
- Accidents – motor vehicle accidents, as well as other types of accidents, frequently lead to broken bones, including those in the feet.
- Heavy weight on the foot – the impact of having something heavy be dropped on the foot often results in one or more broken bones.
- Overuse injuries – tiny stress fractures can occur over time due to repetitive movements and excessive force. These are more common in certain types of occupations as well as in athletes. This type of damage can also result from loss of bone integrity due to conditions like osteoporosis.
Symptoms of Foot Fractures
While there may not be any immediate symptoms associated with small stress fractures, most of the time the symptoms that accompany a broken bone are obvious. They can include some or all of the following:
- Pain that is immediate and ongoing, usually described as “throbbing”, and increases with any activity
- Swelling, bruising, and tenderness in the area of the fracture
- Walking or bearing any weight at all on the foot with the fracture is difficult
- Deformity in appearance
Treatment of Foot Fractures – Foot Fracture Fixation
The treatment your orthopedist will recommend will depend upon the type and location of the fracture, as well as its severity. Foot fractures can be distinguished based upon the nature of the injury, such as:
- Non-displaced – in this type of fracture, which involves the least amount of damage, the bone breaks but remains in place and alignment.
- Displaced – when a break is sufficiently severe to disconnect into two pieces that are no longer together, this is referred to as a displaced fracture.
- Comminuted – this involves a bone that has fractured in multiple places.
- Open fracture – as the name suggests, an open fracture describes a broken bone that is not only displaced but has actually ruptured the skin and may be protruding through it.
Less serious fractures, typically those that are non-displaced, will not usually require surgical fixation. As long as the ends of the bone are together and in proper alignment, treatment will likely consist of wearing some sort of brace, not putting weight on that foot, and medications for pain and inflammation.
For more serious fractures, those where the ends of the bone are no longer together or in alignment, surgery will be recommended to move the bone back into place and to stabilize it. Foot fracture fixation surgery involves making an incision through which the surgeon can manipulate the disconnected pieces of bone back into their proper positions. This part of the surgery is called reduction. Once that has been done, screws, pins, and metal plates may be used to immobilize the bone until it has had time to heal.
Recovery from Foot Fracture Fixation
Every surgery is different and the same is true of recovery time. Typically, it will take up to 8 weeks and may include a significant amount of swelling. Your orthopedic surgeon may recommend physical therapy to help speed up recovery and return to full activity.
Contact Dr. Hubbard Today to Schedule an Appointment For a Foot Fracture Fixation
If you have been diagnosed with a foot fracture, or have questions regarding a foot fracture fixation, Dr. Christopher Hubbard can help. He has the experience and training to provide you with options designed specifically for you to give you the very best potential for recovery. Contact our office today to get started on your treatment.