Broken Foot (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What is the structure of the foot?
- What are the causes of a broken foot?
- What are the symptoms of a broken foot?
- When should I call the doctor for foot pain?
- How is a broken foot diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a broken foot?
- What are the complications of a broken foot?
- Can a broken foot be prevented?
- Broken Foot At A Glance
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What are the causes of a broken foot?
A fracture, break, or crack all mean the same thing when it comes to a bone injury: the integrity of the bone has been damaged. The cause of injury may be obvious, such as jumping from a height or a heavy object falling and landing on the foot, or it may develop gradually over time, such as the result of the constant stress of walking or running.
- Foot fractures account for 10% of all the broken bones in the body, and the
mechanism of injury usually can give a clue as to what bone might be injured.
- Fractures of the calcaneus usually occur when a person
jumps or falls from a height, landing directly on their feet. The force of the
landing may also be transmitted up the body to cause fractures of the ankle,
knee, hip, and lumbar spine.
- Injuries to the midfoot, the
metatarsals, and phalanges often are caused
by a direct blow sustained when a kick goes awry or from a crush injury when a
heavy object is dropped on the foot.
- The most common causes of foot injuries include falls; crush injuries (including impacts from a heavy object or an automobile accident) missed steps, and stress/overuse injuries.
What are the symptoms of a broken foot?
Broken bones are painful, which is the most common symptom that will prompt a person to seek medical care. Swelling, bruising, and tenderness are the other common symptoms. Because the body tries to protect itself, walking may be too painful or the patient will present with a limp. If the bones are significantly displaced (the bone alignment has been lost or there is an associated joint dislocation) a deformity of the foot may be apparent.
In patients with altered pain sensation due to peripheral neuropathy (persons with diabetes are a classic example), pain may not be present, so a fracture may be missed initially. This may also occur in patients with spinal cord injury. Bruising, swelling, and deformity may be the only clues to a potential fracture.
Infants and toddlers may ignore the pain of injury and they may present to the health care practitioner refusing to bear weight on their leg. The child may sit comfortably on the parent's lap without complaint until asked or made to stand.
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