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Foot Fracture

(Broken Foot; Fracture, Foot)

Definition

A 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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Causes

A foot fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma includes:
When a bone is subjected to repeated stress over a long time, small cracks may form. These are called stress fractures . Certain bones (metatarsals and the talus) in the foot are at higher risk for this type of fracture.

Risk Factors

Foot fracture is more common in older adults.
Factors that may increase your chance of a foot fracture include:

Symptoms

A foot fracture may cause:

Diagnosis

You 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.

Treatment

Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your foot. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:

Initial Care

Extra 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
Children’s bones are still growing at an area of the bone called the growth plate. If the fracture affected the growth plate, your child may need to see a specialist. Injuries to the growth plate will need to be monitored to make sure the bone can continue to grow as expected.

Medication

The following medications may be advised:
  • Over-the-counter pain medication to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Prescription pain medication
Check with your doctor before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of Reye syndrome. Ask your doctor which medications are safe for your child.

Rehabilitation

You may be referred to physical therapy or rehabilitation to start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of foot fractures, take these steps:
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:

RESOURCES

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org

References

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.

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