What is the Normal Anatomy of the Foot?
The foot has 26 bones, and can be divided into 3 parts:
- The hind foot is comprised of two bones, the talus bone which connects to the bones of the lower leg, and the calcaneus bone which forms the heel.
- The midfoot is comprised of the navicular, cuboid, and three cuneiform bones.
- The forefoot is made up of five metatarsal bones and 14 toe bones called phalanges.
The hind foot is separated from the midfoot by the medio tarsal joint and the midfoot is separated from the forefoot by the Lisfranc joint. Muscles, tendons and ligaments support the bones and joints of the feet enabling them to withstand the entire body’s weight while walking, running and jumping.
What is a Foot Fracture?
Trauma and repeated stress can cause fractures in the foot. Extreme force is required to fracture the bones in the hind foot. The most common type of foot fracture is a stress fracture, which occurs when repeated activities produce small cracks in the bones.
What are the Types of Foot Fractures?
Foot fractures can involve different bones and joints and are classified into several types:
- Calcaneal fractures: This affects the heel bone and occurs mostly because of high-energy collisions. It can cause disabling injuries and if the subtalar joint is involved it is considered a severe fracture.
- Talar fractures: The talus bone helps to transfer weight and forces across the joint. Talus fractures usually occur at the neck or mid portion of the talus.
- Navicular fractures: Navicular fractures are rare and include mostly stress fractures that occur with sports activities, such as running and gymnastics, because of repeated loading on the foot.
- Lisfranc fractures: This type of fracture occurs due to excessive loading on the foot, which leads to stretching or tearing of the midfoot ligaments.
What are the Common Causes of Foot Fractures?
Foot fractures commonly occur because of a fall, motor vehicle accident, dropping a heavy object on your foot, or from overuse such as with sports.
What are the Symptoms of Foot Fractures?
The common symptoms of a foot fracture include pain, bruising, tenderness, swelling, deformity and inability to bear weight.
How are Foot Fractures Diagnosed?
Your doctor diagnoses a foot fracture by reviewing your medical history and performing a thorough physical examination of your foot. Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI or CT scan may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis. Navicular fractures can be especially difficult to diagnose without imaging tests.
What are the Treatments for Foot Fractures?
Treatment depends on the type of fracture sustained. For mild fractures, nonsurgical treatment is advised and includes rest, ice, compression, and elevation of the foot. Your doctor may suggest a splint or cast to immobilize the foot. For more severe fractures, surgery will be required to align, reconstruct or fuse the joints. Bone fragments may be held together with plates and screws.
Physical therapy may be recommended to improve range of motion and strengthen the foot muscles. Weight bearing however should be a gradual process with the help of a cane or walking boot.