In this Article

Symptoms

Common symptoms of a foot fracture include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Redness and/or heat
  • Intense pain
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Difficulty moving your foot or toes
  • Inability to put weight on the foot
  • A bone that is out of place and/or or broken skin with bone showing

When to See a Doctor

If you think that your foot is broken, get medical treatment right away. Imaging tests may be needed to confirm or rule out a foot fracture.

Causes

Your feet support the weight of your body while standing, walking, running, or exercising, which means they handle a lot of pressure. But, if they are put under too much pressure, they can fracture (break). A foot fracture can also happen during an accident or because of a medical condition, such as arthritis, that weakens the bones. Common causes of foot fracture include:

  • Falling from a high place
  • Tripping or stumbling
  • A direct hit to the bone (common in contact sports or accidents)
  • Long-term impact from forces like running or other forms of exercise
  • Medical condition, such as osteoarthritis or cancer

Diagnosis and Tests

To diagnose a foot fracture, the doctor will likely:

  • Ask about your medical history and your injury
  • Examine the foot
  • Gently press on the foot to correctly locate the source of pain

Imaging tests, such as an X-ray, will be needed to figure our find out what type of bone fracture you have and its exact location in the foot.

Treatments

Treatment for a foot fracture depends on the kind of break and how serious it is. Some treatments include:

  • Reduction. The doctor lines up both sides of the break and fixes them in that position with a cast, splint, or boot so the bone will heal correctly.
  • Surgery. Surgery may be necessary to align the pieces of bone and fix any other structures in the foot that may be damaged. Metal plates and screws may be used to hold the broken pieces in place.
  • Rest. You will likely need to stay off of the injured foot for a bit while it heals. Your doctor might use a cast or splint to keep the foot from moving, and you may need to use crutches or a knee scooter to help you get around.
  • Medicine. Anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen can help decrease pain, swelling, and inflammation in the foot.

Healing time for a fracture might take several weeks or months depending on which bone was broken and what kind of fracture you have.

Prevention

It may not be possible to prevent a foot fracture. However, as many foot fractures are caused by physical activity like running, sports, and other kinds of exercise, you may be able to prevent fractures and other injuries to your foot by:

  • Warming up and stretching before you exercise.
  • Wearing the right shoes for the kind of exercise or sports.
  • Replacing your athletic shoes every year, and replacing your running shoes every 300 to 400 miles.
  • Avoiding uneven surfaces when running or walking.
  • Taking extra care when walking on ice or slippery floors.

Support and Resources

What are Foot Fractures?

A foot fracture is a bone break that happens in the bones of your foot, heel, toes, or ankle. There are different types of foot fractures, but the most common is a hairline fracture. These are also called stress fractures and are caused by repeated stress on the bones during exercise. Foot fractures can take a few weeks or several months to heal, depending on the type and severity of the injury.

A bone break of any size is called a fracture, but there are different kinds of breaks:

  • Compound fracture. This is when the broken bone is pushed through the skin of your foot. It is also called an open or compound fracture.
  • Stress fracture. This is when a bone breaks because of repeated stress on the bone. A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone. It is also sometimes called as a hairline fracture.
  • Partial fracture. This is when a fracture only goes through part of your bone. Partial fractures are more common in children, or when a bone break is the result of repeated stress.