Having a broken bone is never fun, but it’s important to know the different types of fractures so that you can be better prepared if it ever happens to you. Not all fractures are created equal; some are much more mild and require just a little bit of TLC, while others need to be set and surgically corrected. Don’t assume the worst until you get x-rayed by a doctor.
Toe and Forefoot Fractures
We see a lot of fractures in the toes because the bones are so small and sensitive. The most common cause of a toe fracture is dropping something heavy on your foot. You can also sustain a toe fracture if you kick something too hard or if you knock your foot into something hard and your toes are twisted in an abnormal direction. The good news is that toe fractures heal pretty quickly, and although they may be painful for a while they will go back to being as good as new. Treatment is usually administered symptomatically. One common way to treat a toe fracture is by buddy taping the broken toe to the healthy one next to it. You can also find pain relief through ice and over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation. The metatarsals are also part of the forefoot region where fractures may occur. They may be the result of overuse or because of a traumatic injury. Treatment typically involves rest, elevation, and possibly the use of a boot or cast.
Ankle fractures are very common. They usually occur when the ankle twists or rolls in an unusual fashion. Ankle fractures are immediately painful, but it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a fracture without an x-ray. Some symptoms to look out for may include swelling, intense pain, the inability to bear weight on your foot, bruising, and of course, bone protrusion. If you think you have a fracture it’s a good idea to get to an emergency room as quickly as possible to find out. With an ankle fracture the bone will need to heal before you can bear weight on your foot again. This is a process that can take a few weeks, but it will involve wearing a cast and then moving to a boot as you progress. You will also probably need to undergo physical therapy to regain your strength. Some people require surgical interventions to fully recover.
Stress fractures are the easiest of all the fractures to treat, but treatment needs to start promptly. A stress fractures is actually a crack within the bone. You will still most likely be able to put pressure on your foot without extreme pain. Sometimes people tend to want to push through this pain, but don’t be one of them. These types of cracks form over time, especially in people who spend a lot of time on their feet or are very physically active. The best way to treat a stress fracture is with the RICE protocol. This means rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This will help promote the healing process and will get you back on your feet in no time. If the 5th metatarsal is involved you will most likely need to spend some time in a boot or a cast so that your foot can completely heal without any issues.