A foot fracture is a break in any of the bones in the foot.
The foot is made up of 26 small bones. The tarsus is the seven bones that make up the hindfoot and the midfoot. The forefoot consists of the five metatarsals and the 14 phalanges. There are two phalanges in the big toe and three in each of the remaining toes.
A foot fracture can happen in any foot bone, but metatarsal fractures are the most common.
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A foot fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma includes:
When a bone is subjected to repeated stress over a long time, small cracks may form. These are called stress fractures. Certain bones (metatarsals and the talus) in the foot are at higher risk for this type of fracture.
Foot fracture is more common in older adults.
Factors that may increase your chance of a foot fracture include:
A foot fracture may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured area will be examined and an x-ray of the foot will be done.
Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your foot. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:
Extra support may be needed to protect, support, and keep your foot in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include a splint, walking boot, stiff-soled shoe, or cast. Crutches may be needed to help you move around while keeping weight off your foot.
Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. These pieces will need to be put back into their proper place. This may be done:
Children’s bones are still growing at an area of the bone called the growth plate. If the fracture affected the growth plate, your child may need to see a specialist. Injuries to the growth plate will need to be monitored to make sure the bone can continue to grow as expected.
The following medications may be advised:
Check with your doctor before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of Reye syndrome. Ask your doctor which medications are safe for your child.
You may be referred to physical therapy or rehabilitation to start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises.
To help reduce your chance of foot fractures, take these steps:
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Foot fractures and dislocations. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Foot-Fractures-and-Dislocations.htm. Updated April 19, 2012. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116052/Stress-fractures-of-the-foot-and-ankle. Updated March 25, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Stress fractures of the foot and ankle. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00379. Updated July 2009. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Toe and forefoot fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00165. Updated September 2012. Accessed September 25, 2014.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD Last Updated: 9/25/2014