Perhaps you are already aware of this, but your feet contain one-quarter of the bones in your body. Since an adult has 206 bones, this means that each foot possess 26 bones, all connected together with a series of joints and soft tissues. With all the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles, it’s no wonder we treat patients for so many different foot and ankle conditions—including broken bones—here at Palm Beach Podiatry.
When a bone faces tremendous amounts of pressure repeatedly, like during runs or marches of long distances, without having a chance to completely recover, it creates a tiny crack in the bone. This is known as a stress fracture and it is actually a rather common foot and ankle injury.
More conventional breaks fall into two different categories – simple and compound fractures. In the case of a simple fracture, the bone has broken due a single traumatic event, but the broken parts line up in their natural positions. As long as they don’t shift, they will ultimately mend together in their proper places. With a compound fracture, the bone is more severely broken, to the point that the parts do not line up correctly and, in some cases, a piece might even pierce the skin.
The main symptom of any form of a broken bone is pain. In the event of a single traumatic event, the break will be accompanied immediately by a painful sensation. This means that you are usually aware of the break right away (unless nerve damage is present). This may not be the case with stress fractures, which usually have a more gradual onset of pain.
With broken foot bones, bruising, tenderness, and swelling are additional symptoms that might be experienced with the injury. These symptoms, along with pain, are also shared by ankle sprains, so there are certainly instances where broken and sprained ankles are mistaken for each other after an injury. The key distinction is that it is very difficult and painful to walk and place weight upon a broken ankle. This isn’t always the case, however, so it is important to have any ankle injury diagnosed and treated by our specialists here at Palm Beach Podiatry.
Treatment for Fractured Bones
RICE therapy—rest, ice, compression, and elevation—is a good starting point for the treatment of conditions that are mild to moderate in severity. This can be started at home and may be part of the treatment plan we prepare for you here.
If the broken bone is in a toe, it is usually necessary to stabilize the injured toe by “buddy taping” it to an adjacent, healthy toe. This works well for providing a natural splint. Crutches and stiff-soled shoes are often issued to assist with keeping weight off of the injured foot and providing a certain degree of mobility.
When it comes to open fractures (where bone has pierced skin), it is important to not try to push the bone back into place. Also, the wound needs to be cleaned thoroughly, covered with a clean bandage, and immediate medical assistance sought.
There are three different stages for healing bones:
- Inflammation – This begins at the time of the fracture and is used to provide blood into the area to begin clotting, which provides stability and an initial framework for producing new bone tissue.
- Bone production – Clotted blood is replaced with fibrous tissues and cartilage, which ultimately is replaced by solid bone tissue.
- Bone remodeling – In this final stage, bone tissue forms and becomes compact. Circulation returns to its normal levels.
The entire process can take different amounts of time, based on a variety of factors. Generally, though, 6 to 8 weeks is needed for a broken bone to heal significantly. Child bones heal more quickly than do adult ones.
Foot and Ankle Fracture Care in Fort Pierce, FL
If you or a loved one needs care for a broken bone, schedule your appointment with Palm Beach Podiatry today and we will assess the situation and provide the necessary treatment. Call our Boynton Beach office at (561) 734-3100, our Fort Pierce office at (772) 468-0089, or our Loxahatchee office at (561) 791-7773.