Imagine you are out for a walk or a jog. You move without any problems or pain. Suddenly, you sharply stub your foot in a crack or large bump poking up from the sidewalk or trail. There’s a sharp pop and a burst of pain. You may still be able to walk, but now it’s extremely uncomfortable. Forefoot fractures can be simple injuries and happen suddenly, without much force involved. Fortunately, these breaks can also be treated easily with conservative remedies.
Toes and Metatarsals
Your forefoot is made up of your metatarsals and your toes, or phalanges. It plays a crucial role in your ability to take a step—it not only carries your weight, it also allows you to push off the ground and absorb shock when you land. A fracture weakens this important area and can make it both painful and difficult to walk normally. When a bone breaks, usually you feel the pain immediately. The affected area swells and bruises. It’s painful to use that part of the foot to bear weight, though you may still be able to walk.
Cracks can develop in any of the metatarsals or phalanges for various reasons: overuse can cause stress fractures, and direct trauma like stubbing a toe or dropping a heavy object on the foot can create full breaks. Sometime simply tripping can cause the injury. The severity of the problem depends on if the bone is stable or displaced. Displaced fractures will need to be realigned to be able to heal properly. Fortunately, most forefoot fractures can be treated successfully without surgery.
Repairing the Cracks
Like all broken bones, these fractures will heal best if they are addressed and remedied quickly. Leaving the bone to try and repair on its own can allow it to heal incorrectly and result in chronic discomfort or weakness later. We will evaluate your feet and look at diagnostic images to determine which bone suffered the damage and to what extent. From there we can help you repair your forefoot.
Like other breaks, fractures at the front of your foot need a period of rest and immobilization to recover. If the bone is displaced, the doctor will need to manipulate it back into alignment so it can heal. After that, you will need to wear a walking cast, special boot, or stiff-soled shoe to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the affected bones. Broken toes are also buddy-taped to their neighbors to help keep them straight. We may have you ice your foot and take anti-inflammatory medications to help lower the swelling and reduce the discomfort. Once your foot has sufficiently recovered, you can slowly recondition it to handle the strain of your activities again. If your foot isn’t responding to conservative treatment, or the doctor isn’t able to realign a displaced fracture noninvasively, you may need surgery to repair the damage.
Forefoot fractures are common breaks in the lower limb, and they can painfully compromise your mobility, especially if you do not take care of them early on. Don’t wait and allow a break to weaken your whole foot. Contact Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona for an appointment or more information to take care of your forefoot. Visit the online contact page, call either of our two offices, or send us a fax to reach us: for the office in Chandler, call (480) 963-9000 or fax (480) 963-0375; for the office in Gilbert, call (480) 981-1800 or fax (480) 981-0229.