The foot has 26 bones, and the type of fracture treatment may be determined by the area of the foot affected. There are three parts to the foot
- The hind foot is comprised of two bones, one bone connects to the bones of the lower leg, and tone which forms the heel (calcaneus bone).
- The midfoot is comprised of the navicular, cuboid, and three cuneiform bones.
- The forefoot is made up of five metatarsal bones and 14 toe bones called phalanges.
Trauma and/or stress can cause fractures in the foot. Extreme force is required to fracture the bones in the hind foot. The most common type of foot fracture is a stress fracture, which occurs when repeated activities produce small cracks in the bones.
Foot fractures can involve different bones and joints and are classified into several types:
- Fractures of the heel bone (Calcaneal fractures) occur mostly because of high- energy collisions. If the subtalar joint is involved, it is considered a severe fracture.
- Talar fractures: The talus bone helps to transfer weight and forces across the joint. Talus fractures usually occur at the neck or mid portion of the talus.
- Navicular fractures: Navicular fractures are rare and include mostly stress fractures that occur with sports activities, such as running and gymnastics, because of repeated loading on the foot.
- Lisfranc fractures: This type of fracture occurs due to excessive loading on the foot, which leads to stretching or tearing of the midfoot ligaments.
Foot fractures commonly occur because of a fall, motor vehicle accident, dropping a heavy object on your foot, or from overuse such as with sports. Common symptoms of foot fractures include pain, bruising, tenderness, swelling, deformity and inability to bear weight.
The doctor diagnoses a foot fracture by performing a thorough physical examination and reviewing your medical history. Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or CT scan may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment depends on the type of fracture. For mild fractures, nonsurgical treatment is advised and includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the foot. A splint or cast to immobilize the foot may be ordered by the doctor. For more severe fractures, surgery may be required to align, reconstruct or fuse the joints. Bone fragments may be held together with plates and screws.
Physical therapy may be recommended to improve range of motion and strengthen the foot muscles. Weight bearing however is a gradual process with the help of a cane or walking boot.
Surgery may be recommended If the fracture fails to heal, or if the injury involves a displaced bone or multiple fractures, A bone graft may be used to stimulate a healing response. A screw may also be placed to stabilize the fractured bone and hold it securely in place. The surgery depends on the type and extent of injury. Patients with nonunion fractures that don’t heal may be candidates for a portable home Bone Stimulator.