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Foot Fracture

What is a Foot Fracture?

Trauma and repeated stress can cause fractures in the foot. Extreme force is required to fracture the bones in the hindfoot. The most common type of foot fracture is a stress fracture that occurs when repeated activities produce small cracks in the bones.

What is the Normal Anatomy of the foot?

The foot has 26 bones that can be classified into 3 sections:

  • The hindfoot is comprised of two bones: the talus bone that connects to the bones of the lower leg and the calcaneus bone that forms the heel.
  • The midfoot is comprised of the navicular, cuboid and three cuneiform bones.
  • The forefoot is made up of five metatarsal bones and 14 toe bones called phalanges.

The hindfoot is separated from the midfoot by the mediotarsal joint and the midfoot is separated from the forefoot by the Lisfranc joint.

Muscles, tendons, and ligaments support the bones and joints of the feet, enabling them to withstand the entire weight of the body while walking, running and jumping.

What are the Types of Foot Fractures?

Foot fractures can involve different bones and joints, and are classified into several types:

  • Calcaneal fractures: This affects the heel bone and occurs mostly because of high-energy collisions. It can cause disabling injuries and if the subtalar joint is involved, it is considered a severe fracture.
  • Talar fractures: The talus bone helps to transfer weight and forces across the joint. Talus fractures usually occur at the neck or mid portion of the talus.
  • Navicular fractures: Navicular fractures are rare and most often include stress fractures that occur with sports activities, such as running and gymnastics, because of repeated loading on the foot.
  • Lisfranc fractures: This type of fracture occurs due to excessive loading on the foot, which leads to stretching or tearing of the midfoot ligaments.

What are the Common Causes of Foot Fractures?

Foot fractures commonly occur because of a fall, motor vehicle accident, dropping a heavy object on your foot or from overuse such as with sports.

What are the Symptoms of Foot Fractures?

The common symptoms of a foot fracture include pain, bruising, tenderness, swelling, deformity, and inability to bear weight.

How are Foot Fractures Diagnosed?

Your doctor diagnoses a foot fracture by reviewing your medical history and performing a thorough physical examination of your foot. Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or CT scans may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. Navicular fractures can be especially difficult to diagnose without imaging tests.

What is the Treatment for Foot Fractures?

The treatment for foot fractures depends on the type of fracture sustained. For mild fractures, non-surgical treatment is advised and includes rest, ice, compression and elevation of the foot. Your doctor may suggest a splint or cast to immobilize the foot. For more severe fractures, surgery will be required to align, reconstruct or fuse the joints. Bone fragments may be held together with plates and screws.

Physical therapy may be recommended to improve range of motion and strengthen the foot muscles. Weight-bearing however, should be a gradual process with the help of a cane or walking boot.

Symptoms of Ankle Sprains

Ankle sprains can cause pain, swelling, tenderness, bruising, stiffness, numbness in the toes and inability to walk or bear weight on the ankle.

Diagnosis of Ankle Sprains

The diagnosis of an ankle sprain is usually made by reviewing the history of the injury and performing a physical examination of the ankle. X-rays of your ankle may be ordered to determine the extent of the injury.

Treatments of Ankle Sprains

The most common treatment recommended for ankle sprains is rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE).

  • Rest: You should not move or use the injured ankle in order to reduce pain and prevent further damage. Crutches may be prescribed to help in walking.
  • Ice: An ice-pack should be applied over the injured area up to 3 days after the injury for 20-minute sessions, periodically. You can use a cold pack or crushed ice wrapped in a towel. Ice packs help to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Never place ice directly over the skin.
  • Compression: Compression of the injured area helps to reduce swelling and bruising. This is usually accomplished by using an elastic wrap for a few days to weeks after the injury.
  • Elevation: Elevate the ankle part above your heart level to reduce swelling.

Your doctor may also suggest a brace or splint to reduce motion of the ankle. Anti-inflammatory pain medications may be prescribed to help reduce pain and control inflammation. Avoid pivoting and twisting movements for 2 to 3 weeks.

Prevention of Ankle Sprains

To prevent further sprains or recurrence of injury, you may need to wear a semi-rigid ankle brace while exercising, and special wraps and high-top tennis shoes for support. An ankle exercise program will also help to prevent recurrence of injury by making the ankles strong and flexible.

What is an Ankle Fracture?

An ankle fracture is a break in one or more bones that make up the ankle joint. Sometimes, ligaments may also be damaged.

Causes of Ankle Fractures

Ankle fractures are most often caused by motor vehicle accidents, rolling or twisting of the ankle, and by tripping or falling. Sports such as basketball, football, soccer, and skiing increase your risk of fracturing your ankle.

Symptoms of Ankle Fractures

The common symptoms of an ankle fracture include:

  • Pain and swelling around the ankle
  • Bruising
  • Tenderness
  • Inability to walk on the leg
  • Deformity if the ankle is dislocated

Diagnosis of Ankle Fractures

Following an ankle injury, it is important to have the ankle evaluated by your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Diagnosis is made based on the history of injury and physical examination of the ankle. In addition, your doctor may order X-ray(s) of the ankle to determine the extent of the injury.

Treatments of Ankle Fractures

The treatment for ankle fractures varies with the type and severity of the injury. The common method of treatment is adequate rest, ice application, elevation of the injured leg and medications to reduce swelling and pain. A short leg cast or a brace may be applied over the fractured ankle to provide support. If there is severe injury, excessive swelling or severe pain, you should seek immediate medical treatment.

Some ankle fractures are treated with a splint, which is placed on the ankle for a few days until the swelling subsides. Once the swelling decreases, a cast may be placed on the ankle to hold the broken bones in place. Surgery may be needed to realign the bones before placing the splint. During surgery, your doctor may place metal screws, plates, or rods to hold the broken bones intact until healing happens. In some cases, crutches may be prescribed to prevent weight-bearing on the ankle.

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  • British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society
  • American Academy of orthopaedic surgeons
  • 6th of October Hospital
  • European Foot and Ankle Society
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