What is a foot fracture?
A foot fracture occurs when one of the many bones in your foot gets injured or broken. The most common types of fracture are toe fractures and metatarsal fractures – a break in the long bone that runs down the midfoot to the base of each toe. There are different degrees of fracture, and they are separated into two distinct categories: traumatic fractures and stress fractures. Traumatic fractures are caused by sudden injury or a direct impact to the foot.
Stress fractures are tiny breaks in the bone and occur from repetitive stress or an abnormal foot structure. Foot fractures are extremely common and can result from simple accidents like tripping or stumbling as well as from significant trauma such as a motor collision or fall. Symptoms are varied and include bruising, severe pain, swelling, numbness, tenderness, redness, difficulty moving or an obvious bone misalignment either under or through the skin. Foot fractures need immediate medical attention and diagnosis.
How are they treated?
Foot fracture treatment depends on the location of the injury and the type of fracture. Most toe and metatarsal fractures can be treated non-surgically. In milder cases such as hairline fractures, a combination of rest and ice will enable it to heal within weeks. With more serious foot fractures where the bone is not displaced, these are typically treated with immobilisation, rest, physiotherapy and pain relief.
If your foot fracture is displaced, and the broken bones have separated, your doctor may suggest surgery as the best way to restore the joint alignment. The bones are secured using artificial parts, and it is usually performed once the initial swelling has gone down.
How long do they last?
Mild to moderate foot fractures can heal using the RICE method within 6-8 weeks. If surgery is required, the recovery time will depend on the severity of the injury and the extent of the procedure. It can take several months before you are back to normal activities with a full recovery sometimes taking up to one year.
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