Ankle & foot fractures are commonly caused by athletic injuries, falls, work injuries, and direct trauma. They often hinder motion, and are accompanied by symptoms such a severe pain and swelling.
There are both conservative and surgical treatment options for foot and ankle fractures. The podiatrists and surgeons of AFACC always work to conserve first and only suggest surgery when necessary.
To learn what options are best for your injury, find the AFACC podiatry clinic nearest you or fill out the appointment form to the left. For more information on fractures, symptoms, pain relief tips and treatment options, read below.
Foot Fracture Causes & Symptoms
Toe fractures can occur when a hard object strikes the toe, or even as a result of the toe being severely bent. The fracture may cause dislocation of the bone or joint. Non- dislocated toe fractures may heal without a cast. However, physician splinting of the toe can provide comfort, protect the toe, and speed healing. Stiff-soled fracture shoes provided by your podiatric physician can support the fracture, and allow for healing. Depending on your pain level, your podiatric physician may also prescribe pain medication for a few days. Any toe fracture should be examined for proper treatment.
A fracture of the big toe tends to be more severe and can cause more pain, swelling, and bruising. A big toe can break when a person drops a heavy object on it, bends it severely, or stresses the bone too heavily. Fractures of the big toe may require surgery if there is joint disruption or bone dislocation.
A stress fracture of the metatarsals can occur when a person walks or runs excessively, and can also occur with weak bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis). Putting weight on the foot causes increased pain in the ball or middle of the foot. The affected area on the metatarsal bone is tender to touch, with swelling of the area usually present. It is typically painful with activity. Stress fractures generally start as small cracks and can be easily treated by your podiatric physician. Left untreated, the bone may snap, become dislocated, and require surgery.
Other bones of the foot can also break from a variety of injuries, and can be successfully treated non-surgically or surgically depending on the extent of the injury.
Ankle Fracture Causes & Symptoms
The ankle is a hinge-type joint that connects the leg to the foot. Three bones fit together snugly here, and are supported by strong ligaments throughout. An ankle fracture is a break of one or more of these bones.
Ankle fractures usually result when the ankle is forced inward or outward beyond its normal range of motion. Fractures can sometimes be mistaken as sprains, as the symptoms are very similar.
Fractures are often characterized by a sudden twist of the ankle, followed with immediate pain and swelling. Occasionally, a “crack” or “pop” is heard with the injury. The physical exam will usually reveal tenderness over the broken bones. In-office X-rays are needed to confirm the fracture and to determine appropriate treatment. Occasionally, a CT or MRI is needed to evaluate the soft tissue damage to the ankle joint.
Fracture Treatment & Recovery
An examination by your podiatric physician, usually accompanied with in-office X-rays, can help to identify a fracture.
Once a fracture has been identified, your podiatrist will develop a treatment plan for your injury. The doctors at AFACC always strive to correct injuries nonsurgically first, and only recommend surgery when absolutely necessary.
Less severe ankle fractures can be treated non-surgically. Typically, a cast, splint, or special fracture boot is used for several weeks.
Surgery is sometimes needed to repair ankle fractures. Usually, the bones are realigned and then stabilized with screws or plates. The patient is then placed in a cast, splint, or fracture boot for a variable period of time until there is evidence of fracture healing.
Improper or Delayed Treatment
Improper or delayed treatment can make your foot or ankle fracture even worse. Consequences & side effects of improper care and handling of a fracture can include:
- Motion limiting deformity if not properly positioned during healing
- Development of arthritis around the fracture
- Non-healing of the fracture
- Development of chronic pain
Early examination and treatment of any foot, toe, or ankle fracture is essential to a good outcome. Your podiatric physician has extensive training and experience in the non-surgical and surgical treatments of these fractures.
For more information about fractures or to have your feet & ankles assessed, contact us today to schedule an appointment at the AFACC clinic nearest you.