With the increase in activity comes an increase in the number of foot fractures that we treat. A fracture is a break in the bone. A complete fracture is when the bone is actually displaced and there are distinct unconnected pieces seen on x-ray. A fracture can also be seen as a line in the bone. This is considered an incomplete fracture.
Either way, the fracture requires professional care to allow it to heal properly. The most common fractures treated in a podiatry office are the metatarsal fracture and fractures of the toes. The metatarsals are the bones that connect the toes to the middle bones of the foot. The first metatarsal connects to the big toe and the fifth metatarsal connects to the little toe.
Fractures can be extremely painful. Ambulation can be difficult because of the instability of the fractured bone and the pain. Even shoe gear is a challenge because of the pain and swelling. People are under the misconception that if they can stand and or walk on the foot, there is no fracture. The treatment of a metatarsal fracture varies according to the injury sustained.
Most patients respond well to the use of a short leg cam walker that allows for immobilization of the injured bone. Patients find the cam walker to be more comfortable than the plaster casts used previously. Surgical management of a fracture is usually reserved for the more serious foot fractures where there is a complete separation in the bone and where the bone will only heal with the aid of a screw or pin in addition to immobilization.
Fractures of the toes are also common and do require professional attention to insure proper healing. Improper healing can result in the formation of a permanently painful swollen toe and in severe cases the blood supply to the digit can be compromised.