Seldom do we realize the importance of our feet until it’s too late and we have foot fractures or some other foot injury. Foot fractures are breaks in any bone of the foot. The foot consists of 26 major bones and numerous other small bones. The main bones are 19 in the forefoot, 5 in the midfoot and 2 in the hindfoot. 10% of all fractures we incur happen in the 26 bones in our feet. Unlike adults, children’s bones are not as strong as their ligaments, so they are more susceptible to foot fractures than adults are. However, because their feet are so resilient, it is often difficult to diagnose foot fractures in children without doing a comparison with the uninjured foot.
Although there a different types of foot fractures, stress fractures are quite common, especially in athletes or individuals that do repetitive activities on their feet. Stress fractures occur when the foot (or any body part) is overused without the proper rest in between jobs. Stress fractures in the feet occur in the bones that are responsible for bearing most of the weight, which are usually the second and third metatarsals in the foot. However, the heel, the fibula and the bone on the top of the midfoot are also common sites for foot fractures. In addition to athletes, other people who are susceptible to stress fractures in the feet are female patients with osteoporosis or other bone weakening conditions, soldiers that are on their feet marching a lot and adolescents whose bones have not fully developed.
Some of the causes for foot fractures are blows to the feet, falls, collisions such as automobile accidents and severe twists of the foot in addition to repeated stress to the feet. Some people are more at risk to getting foot fractures. Some of these are those with advanced age, decreased muscle tone, athletes in contact sports, those with congenital bone conditions, osteoporosis patients, those in sports of a repetitive nature causing stress and those involved in violence.
Some of the symptoms of foot fractures include swelling and bruising in the injured area, pain, sometimes severe, decreased range of motion, numbness in the foot or toes, a lump on the site of the fracture as well as inability to walk comfortably. You may still be able to walk with a fractured foot, but not comfortably or without pain. A diagnosis is made from a physical examination and an X-ray.
Treatment of foot fractures will vary depending on the severity of the break. It may be surgery to put and keep the bone back in place or a simple realignment of the bone without surgery. In some cases, the patient needs surgery to insert a rod or plate to keep the bone aligned.