Common Fractures to the Foot & Ankle

Fractures to the foot and ankle are common injuries. The foot itself is made up of 26 bones, and while the size of the bones is relatively small, they do a remarkable job of supporting our weight. Fractures of the foot and ankle most commonly occur when an outside force causes the bone to bend, twist, or be crushed. Acute injuries usually happen by rolling an ankle, a car accident, or an athletic injury.

Types of Breaks

  1. Compound Fracture: There is an open wound or break in the skin near the site of the broken bone.
  2. Partial Fracture: There is a crack in the bone that does not reach across the entire width of the bone.
  3. Stress Fracture: Also known as a hairline fracture, where there are tiny cracks in the bone that result from chronic use over an extended period of time.

Diagnosing which type of break involves a physical examination by a doctor who may order additional testing, such as an MRI or X-ray.

Types of Foot Fractures

  1. Toe Fractures: These can normally heal with or without a cast.
  2. Sesamoid Fractures: The sesamoid bones are two small, round bones at the base of the big toe. Generally padded soles help relieve pain, but sometimes the bone may have to be surgically removed.
  3. Metatarsal Fractures: Located in the middle of the foot, these fractures often do not require a cast as a stiff-soled shoe may help. Occasionally, surgery is needed to correct misaligned bones or fractured segments.
  4. Ankle Joint Fractures: These usually require a cast and sometimes may need surgery.

Treatment

Treatment of foot and ankle fractures depend on the severity of the fractures. Most people think that there is nothing a doctor can do to treat even a minor injury, which can lead to serious consequences if left untreated:

  • Arthritis, which may be caused by a fracture in a joint or may be a result of angular deformities that develop when a displaced fracture is severe or has not been properly corrected.
  • A deformity in the bony architecture, which may limit the ability to move the foot or cause difficulty in fitting shoes.
  • Chronic pain.

It is important to seek medical attention if you think you may have a foot or ankle fracture. Treatment of a fractured foot or ankle varies greatly, as there are numerous types and different degrees of severity. The physicians at American Foot & Leg Specialists evaluate each case to determine what treatment will best serve each individual. Most commonly, treatment will consist of some type of immobilization of the fractured bone to allow it to rest such as a cast, removable brace, or a stiff-soled shoe. Utilization of crutches is often necessary to further reduce stress on the injured area, allowing it to rest and heal.