FOOT FRACTURE

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A broken foot is an injury to the bone. You may experience a broken foot during a car crash or from a simple misstep or fall.

The seriousness of a broken foot varies. Fractures can range from tiny cracks in your bones to breaks that pierce your skin.

Treatment for a broken foot depends on the exact site and severity of the fracture. A severely broken foot may require surgery to implant plates, rods or screws into the broken bone to maintain proper position during healing.

FOOT ANATOMY

DISEASE EXPLAINED

SYMPTOMS

If you have a broken foot, you may experience some of the following signs and symptoms:

Immediate, throbbing pain

Pain that increases with activity and decreases with rest

Swelling

Bruising

Tenderness

Deformity

Difficulty in walking or bearing weight

CAUSES

The most common causes of a broken foot include:

CAR ACCIDENTS.
The crushing injuries common in car accidents may cause breaks that require surgical repair.

FALLS.
Tripping and falling can break bones in your feet, as can landing on your feet after jumping down from just a slight height.

IMPACT FROM A HEAVY WEIGHT.
Dropping something heavy on your foot is a common cause of fractures.

MISSTEPS.
Sometimes just putting your foot down wrong can result in a broken bone. A toe can get broken from stubbing your toes on furniture.

OVERUSE.
Stress fractures are common in the weight-bearing bones of your feet. These tiny cracks are usually caused over time by repetitive force or overuse, such as running long distances. But they can also occur with normal use of a bone that's been weakened by a condition such as osteoporosis.

TREATMENT

TREATMENT OPTIONS

Treatments for a broken foot will vary, depending on which bone has been broken and the severity of the injury.

MEDICATIONS
Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

THERAPY
After your bone has healed, you'll probably need to loosen up stiff muscles and ligaments in your feet. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to improve your flexibility and strength.

REDUCTION.
If you have a displaced fracture, meaning the two ends of the fracture are not aligned, your doctor may need to manipulate the pieces back into their proper positions — a process called reduction. Depending on the amount of pain and swelling you have, you may need a muscle relaxant, a sedative or even a general anesthetic before this procedure.

IMMOBILIZATION.
To heal, a broken bone must be immobilized so that its ends can knit back together. In most cases, this requires a cast.

Minor foot fractures may only need a removable brace, boot or shoe with a stiff sole. A fractured toe is usually taped to a neighboring toe, with a piece of gauze between them.

SURGERY.
In some cases, an orthopedic surgeon may need to use pins, plates or screws to maintain proper position of your bones during healing. These materials may be removed after the fracture has healed if they are prominent or painful.

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