Broken foot facts
- The bones in the foot may be broken in many ways including direct blows, crush injuries, falls and overuse or stress.
- Initial treatment may include RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Rest may include the use of crutches to limit weight bearing.
- X-rays often help make the diagnosis but bone scan or computerized tomography (CT scan) may be needed to help visualize the injury.
- Treatment of foot fractures depend upon which bone is broken but many fractures are treated with a compression dressing, a stiff- soled shoe, and weight bearing as tolerated.
- Some foot fractures require surgery to repair the damage.
- Complications of foot fractures include non-union at the fracture site, arthritis if a joint is involved, and infection if the skin is broken.
What is the structure of the foot?
The foot is designed to withstand the considerable forces placed on it by walking, running, and jumping. There are 26 bones of the foot, connected by joints and supported by thickened ligaments to absorb the impact of movement. As well, the joints of the foot are acted upon by muscles and tendons that allow flexing and extending to permit walking and running to occur.
The bony anatomy can be described as follows:
- The talus articulates with the tibia (shin bone) to form the ankle joint.
- The calcaneus or the heel bone is attached by ligaments to the tibia to provide stability to the ankle joint.
- The midfoot consists of the navicular, the cuboid, and the three cuneiform bones. The midfoot is where inversion and supination of the foot occurs. These motions allow the sole of the foot to turn inwards and upwards.
- The five metatarsal bones are connected to each toe.
- The toe bones are called phalanges (single = phalanx) with the great toe having two and the other four toes having three each. These bones are named based upon their relationship to the body: proximal, middle and distal. Proximal means closest to the center of the body while distal is furthest from the center.
- The arch of the foot is maintained by the plantar fascia, a thick fibrous band of tissue that runs from the calcaneus to the metatarsal, preventing the bones of the foot from flattening.
- There are places in the foot where two bones meet to form a joint. Each joint has its own set of structures that help maintain stability.
- Injuries to the foot include fractures of the bone, sprains of the ligaments that stabilize the joints, and strains of the muscles and tendons that move the foot. Joints can also become inflammed, which causes arthritis.