Treating bone fractures

How To Know If A Bone In Your Foot Is Broken

Nidhi Nangia
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: April 9, 2020
How To Know If A Bone In Your Foot Is Broken

Feet are capable of withstanding considerable force. All the jumping, running and walking we do is repeat trauma which our feet have to withstand. A foot has 26 bones in total, connected with joints and sustained with thick ligaments. This makes them proficient in absorbing impact from movement. Additionally, it has tendons and muscles that allow it to flex and extend to enable running and walking. Because the foot is exposed to such rigorous stress, it is susceptible to break when it is stressed or the force acted upon it is too strong. According to a study, around 10 percent of fractures take place in the foot alone. If you recently went through a fall or accident, and you are not sure if your bones are intact, then oneHOWTO will help you tell how to know if a bone in your foot is broken.

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  1. Types of broken bones in the foot
  2. Symptoms of broken foot bone
  3. Confirm with a doctor's visit
  4. Go For Professional Diagnosis of a Broken Bone in Foot
  5. People Who are More Susceptible to Have Broken Bones in Foot

Types of broken bones in the foot

As far as bone injury is concerned, it can be a crack, break or fracture. All of these damage the integrity of the bones in your foot. The cause of a broken bone can be obvious, like jumping from height or a heavy object landing on top of it. Some kinds of breaks in bones may also develop gradually with time, like the one caused due to constant stress while running or walking. This is particularly the case if you play a sport like football. Let’s have a look at different types of broken bones in the foot:

  • Fracture of the heel bone usually occurs when you jump or fall down from height, then directly land on your feet. When you land on your feet, the force may also transmit to upper parts of your body and cause broken bones in your ankles, knees, lumbar spine and hips.
  • Injury to the middle part of your foot, known as the metatarsal, is often caused due to direct blow when a heavy object falls on your foot or when a kick goes wrong.
  • A twisting injury may cause bones in your foot to break as well. For instance, the base of your fifth metatarsal breaks when your ankle happens to roll inward.
  • Most common causes of injuries in the foot include falls, crushing injuries, missed steps, stress and overuse.

Symptoms of broken foot bone

You may have a broken bone in your foot if you recently had a fall or accident. This can be a serious injury and require immediate medical attention. The severity of a broken bone may vary, so symptoms may also be different. If you develop any of these symptoms after a fall or accident, talk to your doctor and let them perform an examination. Some symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty walking
  • Inability to put body weight on foot
  • Deformity of the foot, which may be caused due to a broken bone that might be sticking out from the skin
  • Injured foot facing in the wrong direction
How To Know If A Bone In Your Foot Is Broken - Symptoms of broken foot bone

Confirm with a doctor's visit

It is important to contact a doctor if you experience these symptoms of a broken bone. Waiting for too long can worsen things and give way to serious complications to develop. An infection may develop and cause permanent or long-lasting changes in your foot’s shape and condition. Be sure to contact a doctor if you experience any of these:

  • If you suspect a fracture
  • If your symptoms worsen after a few hours or days
  • If swelling and pain in your foot increase
  • If you develop circulation problems and numbness in your foot
  • If your foot becomes cold and turns blue
  • If you see a part of bone sticking out from your skin
  • If your foot is deformed, such as turning the wrong way
  • If you can’t stand or walk
  • If you notice red streaks or redness around the injured part of the foot

Even if the symptoms are mild, it is important to contact a doctor. Few people do not experience serious swelling and pain after the injury, but may still need treatment. A doctor will examine your foot and determine if it’s a broken bone, or just a sprain.

Go For Professional Diagnosis of a Broken Bone in Foot

How you received the injury will play a vital role in giving clues as to what kind of injury you must have incurred. It is also important to know how much time passed away since the injury occurred. Your medical history is also important, as diabetic patients and people with other conditions may suppress immunity and have increased risk of developing infections.

Physical examination includes following:

  • Inspection of foot for bruising, swelling, open wounds and deformities.
  • Palpation will allow the doctor to feel the location of pain. This is helpful for X-rays, as it allows the doctor to relate tender areas with anatomy seen on the X-ray. This is especially important in kids whose bones have not yet fully calcified. In such cases, a broken bone may be missed as it does not occur through bone, but through cartilage.
  • Examination of the circulatory system, in which the doctor feels for your pulses and assesses the speed of blood flow returning to the tip of your toe.
  • Neurological examination in which the doctor assesses sensation in your foot, such as pin prick and light touch sensations.
  • The doctor may ask the patient to move the injured foot. With this examination, the doctor will assess tendon and muscle function of the foot. If you are able to move your foot, then it indicates that only the tendons and muscles are working, but there is no certainty about whether your bones are intact or not. If you can move your foot does not necessarily mean that you don’t have a broken bone.
  • Examining your foot’s range of motion will help in assessing the stability of your ligament. However, if the doctor is sure that this is a fracture, then they would recommend you to keep your foot immobilized.

Methods of professional diagnosis include:

  • X-ray is often used to evaluate the status of your foot bones. An adequate view of the entire foot is usually taken from three angles. If the doctor is concerned about a fracture in the calcaneus, then they may ask for a special view X-ray as well.
  • For some types of broken bones in the foot, an X-ray may not be sufficient, especially if it is a metatarsal stress fracture. In this kind of fracture, a bone scan may be required.
  • CT scan or computerized tomography may be required to assess fracture in the talus and calcaneus, as this scan will be more efficient in illustrating the condition of the ankle and mid-foot joint.
  • In some cases of broken bones in the foot, an MRI or magnetic resonance imaging may also be used. While an X-ray is used to indicate the type of injury in the foot, a CT scan may be effective in delineating numerous damaged joints and bones. So, the more serious your injury is, the more number of scans you may need to go through.

People Who are More Susceptible to Have Broken Bones in Foot

Some people are more susceptible to have broken bones in their foot. Some risk factors include:

  • If you place your foot under considerable stress by wearing poorly constructed shoes.
  • Obese people have more unstable feet, contributing to their chances of having a stress fracture.
  • People who are involved in high-impact sports have more chances of having broken bones in their feet. Such people often twist and bang their foot, causing them to be seriously injured. Such people should always wear protective equipment to reduce risk of injury.
  • People involved in certain occupations have more chances of having foot injury. For instance, construction workers have increased risk of falling from height or having something dropped on their foot.
  • People with peripheral neuropathy or osteoporosis have more chances of breaking bone in their foot.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How To Know If A Bone In Your Foot Is Broken, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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How To Know If A Bone In Your Foot Is Broken