Our feet include dozens of tiny bones, working together to support our frame, help us balance, and absorb shock from each movement we make. When you think about the stress that each part of our foot endures each day, the strength and durability of the foot is truly incredible.
While the stress of everyday movement and normal levels of activity rarely is enough to cause a fracture, our feet are also particularly vulnerable to traumatic injury. Crushing, excessive torque, twisting, and hard impacts often result in one or several bones breaking.
These injuries may keep people off their feet for weeks as the break heals; while pain is generally thought of as a negative symptom, the extreme pain associate with this type of break encourages people to stay off their feet. This allows the bone to heal without further complication or injury.
Some fractures, however, may barely be noticeable. Small, hairline cracks may appear as the result of repetitive stress, and while sore, may not be enough to prompt someone to seek help. This means that many people may continue to use the injured foot, only worsening the odds of healing.
Acute Fractures: Traumatic Injuries, Painful Results
Acute fractures are generally caused by a specific trauma, such as landing improperly on the foot or dropping something heavy on a toe. When you incur an acute fracture, you usually know right away. The area quickly becomes swollen and bruised, and pain is localized at the site of the break.
Many people associate acute fractures with extreme activity, such as sports or dangerous construction work. The truth is, however, that fractures can happen to anyone at any level of activity. A misstep or stumble could end in an acute fracture, so do not brush off painful symptoms pointing to a break.
Acute fractures generally require immobilization in order to heal, and more severe breaks may require realignment of the bone. For complex fractures, simple surgery may be needed to insert pins and screws to unite and stabilize the bones.
Stress Fractures: What They Are, and How They Occur
Stress fractures are fractures in the sense that the bone has cracked, but the break itself is a barely-noticeable hairline crack. Most people with hairline fractures do not even notice them at first, as they are not caused by any one event. Instead, these fractures are caused by overuse; often, the muscles around a particular bone become fatigued or injured, and pass the stress of impact on to the bone.
These overuse injuries are common when people suddenly increase their activity level, or when experienced runners take their jaunts off the treadmill and onto hard pavement. Most people do not assume that the pain is bone-related at all—an area of the foot may seem tender or slightly swollen, which only worsens as time wears on.
Fortunately, treatment for stress fractures can be very simple when the condition is caught early. Rest is the only thing that will truly allow the damaged muscle and bone to heal, and regular icing can help control swelling. For more serious stress fractures, the use of a boot may protect and further immobilize the foot.
Don’t Wait—Act Today
When fractures are left untreated, you may further damage the bone and tissue, while also risking permanent deformities or complications. If you suspect that you have suffered a fracture of any kind, visiting a podiatrist can help you treat the problem with the proper care it requires.
To schedule an appointment at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona to address your fracture or foot pain, call either of our Valley locations today. Our welcoming staff will help get you back on your feet as soon as possible—call us at our Chandler (480-963-9000) or Gilbert (480-981-1800) offices to get started now!