(Broken Foot; Fracture, Foot)
DefinitionA foot fracture is a break in any of the bones in the foot.The foot is made up of 26 small bones. The tarsus is the seven bones that make up the hindfoot and the midfoot. The forefoot consists of the five metatarsals and the 14 phalanges. There are two phalanges in the big toe and three in each of the remaining toes.A foot fracture can happen in any foot bone, but metatarsal fractures are the most common.
|Phalanx Fracture of the Foot|
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CausesA foot fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma includes:
- Blows or object falling on the foot
- Severe twists
Risk FactorsFoot fracture is more common in older adults. Factors that may increase your chance of a foot fracture include:
- Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or absent menstrual cycles or post- menopause
- Certain diseases and conditions that weaken bones, such as tumors or cysts
- Decreased muscle mass
- Sudden change in activity or exercise program, such as becoming a military recruit
- High-impact or repetitive motion sports, such as gymnastics, basketball, tennis, or running
SymptomsA foot fracture may cause:
- Pain, often severe
- Bruising and swelling in the injured area
- Numbness in toes or foot
- Decreased range of motion
- Inability to walk comfortably
- A lump or visible deformity over the fracture site
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured area will be examined and an x-ray of the foot will be done.
TreatmentProper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your foot. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:
Initial CareExtra support may be needed to protect, support, and keep your foot in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include a splint, walking boot, stiff-soled shoe, or cast. Crutches may be needed to help you move around while keeping weight off your foot.Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. These pieces will need to be put back into their proper place. This may be done:
- Without surgery—you will have anesthesia to decrease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
- With surgery—pins, screws, or plates may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place
MedicationThe following medications may be advised:
- Over-the-counter pain medication to reduce inflammation and pain
- Prescription pain medication
RehabilitationYou may be referred to physical therapy or rehabilitation to start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises.
PreventionTo help reduce your chance of foot fractures, take these steps:
- Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
- Do weight-bearing and strengthening exercises regularly to build strong bones.
- Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
- Clean spills and slippery areas right away.
- Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter.
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower.
- Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub.
- Put in handrails on both sides of stairways.
- Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls.
- Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Foot fractures and dislocations. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Foot-Fractures-and-Dislocations.htm. Updated April 19, 2012. Accessed September 25, 2014.
March fracture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 29, 2014. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00379. Updated July 2009. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Toe and forefoot fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00165. Updated September 2012. Accessed September 25, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 09/25/2014