Foot fractures occur when one or more (can occur
at the same time) of the 26 bones in the foot either crack or break. Foot fractures are in fact very common, as they are very prone to slipping and twisting. The complex structure of the foot, which will be discussed later, was structured to endure sizeable amount of forces. The 26 bones, each connected by joints and supported by thickened ligaments which help absorb the impact of movement, allow for activities such as walking and running to occur.
A foot fracture, or broken foot, is more common in children than in adults. This is because by the time one reaches adulthood, the bone will have already hardened, making is stronger than the tendons and ligaments. A significant amount of force can lead to a sprain in adults, but when the same amount of force is exerted in children, it may lead to a sprain
Structure of the Foot
The foot is divided into three parts: the hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot.
- Hindfoot (two bones)
- Talus: where the foot attaches to the leg (forms ankle joint)
- Calcaneus: forms the heel
- Midfoot (five bones)
- Three cuneiforms
- Forefoot (long part of the foot – 19 bones)
- Five metatarsals (one for every toe)
- Two phalanges for the big toe and three phalanges for every succeeding toe
- Accessory bones
- No necessary function
- Two sesamoid bones (small pebble-like bones)
Foot Fracture Causes
There are several ways to fracture the foot and any of its bones. Some of the common ways include:
- Crushing, bending, twisting or stretching the bones
- Toes can be broken by kicked something hard
- Heels are often broken by landing on one’s feet from a considerable height
- Heavy object falling on the foot
- Bones may be broken when the ankle is sprained
- Stress fractures
- Overuse or repetitive use
- Occurs in athletes such as, gymnasts, runners and dancers
Foot Fracture Symptoms
It may be hard to tell when one has a broken foot, even after x-ray, as many parts of a growing child’s bone do not display well on x-rays. However, the following symptoms are characteristics of foot fractures, thus if any more than one symptoms are present, medical help must be sought.
- History of trauma or injury
- Pain that increases upon pressure or movement
- Swelling and bruising
- Limping while walking
Foot Fracture First Aid Management
It is necessary to stabilize the foot in all cases of foot fractures. First aid must be administered before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
- Create a splint that would help immobilize the foot. One suggestion is wrapping a pillow around the foot then taping or tying it with a bandage. Avoid tight wrapping to avoid cutting off blood supply to the foot.
- Elevate the fractured foot, ideally at a level higher than the rest of the body. if possible, lie down while the foot is placed on top of several pillows.
- Place an ice pack or cold compress on the fractured foot to avoid alleviate pain and swelling. Do this for 20 minutes every waking hour during the first 24 hours after the injury.
- Avoid any injuries to the foot.
Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and not meant to substitute for medical advice or first aid training. To learn how to treat and manage foot fractures and other fractures in the body, register in First Aid Training offered by workplace approved.