The foot has 26 bones, and can be divided into 3 parts:
The hindfoot is separated from the midfoot by the mediotarsal 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. Despite this, trauma and stress can cause fractures in the foot. Extreme force is required to fracture the bones in the hindfoot. The most common type of foot fracture is a stress fracture, which occurs when repeated activities produce small cracks in the bones.
Foot fractures can involve different bones and joints and are classified into several types:
Foot fractures commonly occur as a result of a fall, motor vehicle accident, dropping a heavy object on your foot or from overuse such as with sports.
The common symptoms of a foot fracture include pain, bruising, tenderness, swelling, deformity and inability to bear weight.
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.
Treatment depends on the type of fracture sustained. For mild fractures, nonsurgical treatment is advised, which 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.