Bone fractures in the feet and toes are common, generally caused by overuse and sports activities. Though painful, this type of fracture is rarely immobilizing.
Over one forth of the bones in your body are located in your feet, and fractures in the forefoot (metarsals) and toes (phalanges) happen frequently. However, the two types of bones don’t often break in the same way.
As we mentioned above, fractures that occur in the metatarsal bones and phalanges of the foot are rarely immobilizing. However, they can be quite painful and therefore can cause significant changes in your gait (your manner of walking), which can then lead to other problems like corns and calluses.
Other symptoms of foot and toe fractures include swelling, stiffness, bruising, extreme tenderness, discoloration of the injured area and a crooked or abnormal appearance of the toe(s) or foot.
Sometimes a person might experience an open fracture (when the bone pierces the skin), bleeding, a blue or gray appearance in the injured area and/or a cold, numb or tingling sensation. All of these are signs that you should seem immediate medical attention.
Many people believe that doctors can’t do anything for broken bones in the foot, but that is a dangerous misconception. While many foot and toe fractures can heal on their own without operative treatment, you should seek podiatric advise if you experience pain, swelling and bruising from what you think may be a broken bone. If you do not seek treatment, you could run the risk of developing:
While you wait for your doctor’s appointment, keep weight off of the affected foot and help reduce pain and swelling by icing the area. Always use a towel so the ice does not come into direct contact with your skin.
Most surgeons will advise you to stay immobilized and avoid walking and weight bearing activities for a period of three to four weeks while the fracture heals, which it should do completely after six to eight weeks. He or she may also recommend a toe splint, buddy tape, brace, short-leg walking cast, special shoes or orthotics that will help the broken bone heal properly.