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
- Broken foot facts
- What is the structure of the foot?
- What are the causes of a broken foot?
- Pictures of the bones in the 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?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
What are the symptoms of a broken foot?
Broken bones are painful, especially with weight bearing, causing the person to limp. Pain and limping are the most common symptoms 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.
People with altered pain sensation due to peripheral neuropathy (persons with diabetes are a classic example), pain may not be present, and the 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 when they see a health care professional, they may refuse to bear weight on their leg. The child may sit comfortably on the parent's lap without complaint until asked or made to stand.
When should I call the doctor for foot pain?
Most of the bones in the foot will eventually heal with rest, but some fractures may need surgery to repair.
Often, it is the mechanism of injury associated with the intensity of pain that makes the patient seek care. It is appropriate to seek medical care if the patient cannot walk normally without a limp.
Medical care should be accessed immediately if an injury to the foot also includes a laceration. The term "open fracture", previously named "compound fracture," describes a broken bone that is associated with a break in the skin. Open fractures pose a significant risk for major infection of the bone.
Other reasons to seek care include:
- Numbness or tingling in the toes, which may be an indication of nerve damage
- A cool and white toot, which may signal artery damage and decreased blood supply to the foot
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