The forefoot is front portion of the foot that functions in weight-bearing and maintaining balance while standing, walking or running. It is formed by 5 metatarsal bones, 14 phalange bones, and various soft tissues. A forefoot fracture is a crack or breaks in any of these bones. In some cases, the broken bone can protrude through the skin. Then it is called an open fracture.
Stress fractures are tiny hairline cracks in the bone, most often caused due to repeated stress. Stress fractures are common in athletes, runners and dancers. Traumatic fractures occur when there is a direct impact of the foot on a hard surface.
The common symptoms of forefoot fracture include cracking sound at the time of injury, pain, bruising, swelling and a tingling sensation. The fracture may also cause the skin to be discolored and deformity if not treated. It is of course often difficult to walk or run with a forefoot fracture.
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.
The treatment options include:
- Medications: Prescribed pain medications may be given to manage pain.
- Rest: Adequate rest can heal a traumatic fracture.
- Splinting: Splints may be applied to keep the toe in a fixed position.
- Rigid shoe: A stiff-soled shoe may be recommended to protect the toe and position it correctly.
- Buddy-taping: The fractured toe is taped to the adjacent toe with a gauze pad between the toes.
Surgery is recommended if non-surgical treatment options do not resolve the fracture. Surgery is performed under local anesthesia. The fractured bones are realigned using pins or screws to hold the bones together until they heal completely. Follow-up X-rays may be ordered. Complete healing may take 6-8 weeks.