Your feet together contain 52 bones. That is more than 25 percent of the bones in your entire body!
The bones in your feet and ankles are quite strong. They are built to withstand great amounts of force generated in our everyday weight-bearing and movement. However, that does not mean our bones are invincible. Whether from a sudden impact, an accident, or the steady wear of overuse, foot and ankle fractures do happen.
The severity of a fracture may vary, but it is always important that any possible broken bone is fully examined by an expert. Northwood Foot & Ankle Center has extensive experience in treating fractures. Proper care helps prevent potential complications from a bone healing incorrectly, such as increased risk of future injury, arthritis, or nerve pain.
Types of Fractures
The best treatment for a fracture will depend on its severity and location. Plenty of specific types of fractures can happen within the foot, and some have specific names. We will only go over a few general types of fractures here.
A stress fracture is one of the least severe types of this injury. A break appears along the surface of the bone instead of going down through it.
Stress fractures are often seen in athletes and those who have just started working out. When the body is strained due to increased physical intensity or repetitive impacts, it needs time to recover. If the body is not given this opportunity, bones can weaken instead of strengthen, resulting in stress fractures.
A stable fracture is the more traditional “full break” that most people imagine. In a stable case, the broken ends of the bone are aligned and have not shifted to any great degree. If one or both ends of the bone have shifted, creating a displaced fracture, they will have to be moved back into place.
A comminuted fracture is when a bone has broken into three or more pieces. This is often seen in car crashes and other severe trauma.
Bones do not always break because of impacts. An avulsion fracture is when part of a bone is pulled off, often by the force of a tendon. In the foot, this type of fracture is often seen on the fifth metatarsal.
When Should I See You About a Possible Fracture?
It is always worth giving us a call any time you feel you might have broken a bone in your foot or ankle. There are some cases when a suspected break may be a severe bruise or a sprain. In any case, you still want to ensure that the injury heals properly.
Additional signs that you should contact us include:
- Pain and swelling not improving with care at home or is getting worse.
- Difficulty in walking.
- Obvious deformity in the foot or ankle.
How Are Foot and Ankle Fractures Treated?
The exact course of treatment for a fracture will vary from patient to patient, depending on the type and location of the fracture. A patient’s age, lifestyle, and other conditions will also play a factor.
If the two ends of a full fracture are not aligned, they will first need to be set back into their correct positions. Once in alignment, the area of a fracture may also be immobilized to allow the bone a chance to repair itself.
In the case of minor fractures, we will often heavily wrap the foot or recommend the use of a walking boot. When using the latter, we also offer devices to even up one’s gait and keep the hips aligned. This will help prevent back pain.
Most fractures tend to heal within 6 weeks if all advice is followed. Physical therapy and exercises may also be recommended to help recondition and strengthen the muscles and tendons surrounding the healed bone.
Surgery is only considered if the fracture is more severe or other complications are involved.
Whenever trauma strikes, Northwood Foot and Ankle Center is here to help you make a full recovery. Call us at (616) 393-8886 to schedule an appointment at our offices in Holland or St. Joseph.