Each of your feet contains 26 bones — that's 52 bones between the two appendages that account for about one-quarter of the bones in your entire body (206 is the total count). Not only are the bones in your feet numerous, they’re also small and delicate, leaving them more vulnerable to fractures.
While you would think that a broken bone in your foot would be fairly obvious — and they often are — foot issues like stress fractures can also be subtle.
To help you determine whether you might be dealing with a fracture in your foot, the team here at Western Orthopaedics pulled together a few of the obvious, and not-so-obvious, signs here.
Let’s start with one of the more obvious signs that you’ve broken a bone in your foot or ankle — pain. If the break occurs due to acute trauma, such as dropping something heavy on your foot or badly stubbing your toe, the pain will be immediate. This pain will be acute, and you’ll also experience tenderness if you try to touch the area.
Where the problem gets tricky is with stress fractures, which can develop over time due to overuse. A small, hairline fracture in your foot can lead to dull, intermittent pain that flares with heavy use. Over time, the pain can become more constant, and the area can also become tender to the touch.
When you break a bone, your body responds with inflammation to protect the area. So, most foot fractures come with some degree of swelling, which is fairly immediate after the trauma.
Here again, if it’s a developing stress fracture, you might not have any swelling, or the swelling may come and go with activity.
When you break a bone in your foot or ankle due to trauma, the odds are good that you’ll develop some degree of visible bruising.
Problems with weight bearing
With an acute fracture in your foot, your ability to bear weight on your foot will likely be affected, depending on the location of the break.
With a stress fracture, you’ll also run into problems placing weight on the affected area.
The importance of diagnosis and treatment
Whether you’re dealing with a stress fracture or an acute fracture, it’s important that we properly evaluate the injury. A quick X-ray is enough to tell us whether there’s a fracture, the extent of the break, and how to go about treating the damage.
From simple splints to more complex boots and casts, we find the solution that allows enough time and support for your bone to heal and remodel.
If you suspect you’re dealing with a foot fracture, please contact one of our offices in Arvada or Denver, Colorado, to schedule an appointment with one of our fracture specialists.