Types of Foot Fractures - Brace Direct

Types of Foot Fractures

Foot fractures are a type of injury where an external force or action causes one or more bones in the foot to suffer from a fracture. There are four main types of foot fractures, which we will cover more in-depth in later sections. 

Any time you experience an incident that results in heavy swelling, pain, bruising, and trouble walking, you should visit an emergency care provider for imaging and diagnosis. 

Walking on a foot fracture, regardless of how severe it is, can cause it to heal improperly and cause pain and discomfort for years. 

You should visit an emergency care provider for more information on your injury because foot fractures can range from hairline cracks in your bone to complete shattering of the bone. 

What is the Difference Between a Fractured Bone and a Broken Bone?

There is no medical difference between a fractured bone and a broken bone. The terms are used interchangeably. Any time there is a break in the structure of the bone, or the bone loses its integrity, it is considered a broken, or fractured, bone. 

Types of Foot Fractures 

woman holding foot in pain

It is generally accepted within the medical community that there are four main types of foot fractures. 

The variations of the foot fractures depend on their location within your foot. Your foot has 26 bones, so determining the exact location of the injury is important when your doctor prescribes treatment and recovery programs. 

The four main types of foot fractures are:

  • Ankle Joint Fractures
  • Metatarsal Bone Fractures
  • Sesamoid Bone Fractures
  • Toe Fractures

Within these areas, other types of fractures are more specific. These include:

  • Comminuted fractures: the bone is broken into more than two pieces
  • Extra-articular fractures: the break does not extend into the joint¬†
  • Intra-articular fractures: the break extends into the joint¬†
  • Open fracture: the fractured bone breaks the skin¬†

Ankle Joint Fractures

man holding ankle in pain

Ankle joint fractures are injuries to the bones in the upper part of your foot where the foot and ankle connect. These fractures are usually more serious than other types of foot fractures. They often require casting to heal. 

If the bones are too separated or misaligned, these injuries may require surgery. For younger kids, surgery is a higher possibility with these kinds of injuries due to their growth plate status. 

Symptoms of Ankle Joint Fractures

Symptoms that accompany ankle joint fractures include:

  • Immediate pain
  • Throbbing pain¬†
  • Pain that increases with movement and decreases with rest
  • Swelling¬†
  • Bruising¬†
  • Tenderness
  • Deformity of the ankle
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight¬†
  • A stuck feeling in the ankle joint¬†

Treatments for Ankle Joint Fractures

Treatments for ankle joint fractures most often include a hard cast. With comminuted, extra-articular, and intra-articular ankle joint fractures, surgery can be avoided with proper casting. For open fractures, surgery, and post-operative physical therapy are highly likely.  

How Ankle Joint Fractures Occur

Ankle fractures often occur when you roll your ankle from side to side or land on it with heavy force. Car accidents and overuse can also cause an ankle joint fracture. 

Contact sports and sports with large amounts of running and jumping pose a higher risk of these injuries than other sports.

Metatarsal Bone Fractures

woman holding foot in pain

Metatarsal bone fractures are common when it comes to foot fractures. These types of injuries often do not require casting to heal. The metatarsal bones are in the middle of the foot between the toes and ankle. 

For the most part, a stiff walking shoe is all that is needed to heal these fractures. However, if there is serious misalignment or an open fracture in this area, surgery might be necessary. 

Symptoms of Metatarsal Bone Fractures

As with most foot injuries, the following symptoms are symptoms of a metatarsal bone fracture: 

  • Immediate pain
  • Throbbing pain¬†
  • Pain that increases with movement and decreases with rest
  • Swelling¬†
  • Bruising¬†
  • Tenderness
  • Deformity of the foot
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight¬†

Treatments for Metatarsal Bone Fractures

If the metatarsal break is not severe, treatment can be as simple as wearing a stiff walking shoe, avoiding activity, ice, compression, and over-the-counter pain medication until the pain is gone. However, severe cases could require surgery, physical therapy, or a more extensive walking boot. 

How Metatarsal Bone Fractures Occur

The most common injury mechanism for a metatarsal bone fracture is dropping something heavy on your foot. Tripping and falling are also common with these injuries. 

These injuries are usually more minor foot fractures, so follow your doctor’s instructions, and you should be back to normal in no time! 

Sesamoid Bone Fractures 

The sesamoid bones are two small, rounded bones at the end of the metatarsal bone at the big toe. These types of fractures might result in the removal of the sesamoid bone if they do not heal or do not heal correctly. 

Symptoms of Sesamoid Bone Fractures

As with most foot injuries, the following are symptoms of a sesamoid bone fracture: 

  • Immediate pain
  • Throbbing pain¬†
  • Pain that increases with movement and decreases with rest
  • Swelling¬†
  • Bruising¬†
  • Tenderness
  • Deformity of the foot, near the toe bone
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight¬†

Treatments for Sesamoid Bone Fractures

Treatments for a sesamoid bone fracture include using a heavily padded sole in the shoe, wearing good arch supports, buddy taping the toe to the next one for support, or in severe cases a hard cast. 

If treatment interventions do not help the pain and discomfort, you might need surgery to remove the bones or at least remove fragments of the bones. 

How Sesamoid Bone Fractures Occur

Usually, these bones break due to stress from running, jumping, and wearing high heels. You can prevent fractures by avoiding activity that inflames the area or causes further damage. 

Toe Fractures

medical professional examining foot

Toe fractures are quite common, but the good news is that they are generally mild injuries that cause slight discomfort. 

Symptoms of Toe Fractures

As with most foot injuries, the following are symptoms of a toe fracture: 

  • Immediate pain
  • Throbbing pain¬†
  • Pain that increases with movement and decreases with rest
  • Swelling¬†
  • Bruising¬†
  • Tenderness
  • Deformity of the toe¬†
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight¬†

Treatments for Toe Fractures

The treatment for a toe fracture is easy. You can buddy tape the toes or wear closed-toe shoes with a toe pad.

How Toe Fractures Occur

Toe fractures often occur because of small things like stubbing it on a dresser, the pain we know too well, or squishing it between something. They do not take too long to heal, but they can be inconvenient to deal with, and can make walking hard!

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you are more familiar with the types of foot fractures that can and do occur, including the more specific types of each area of the foot. 

Diagnosis is the most important piece in receiving treatment. The most common ways to diagnose a broken foot in any area are X-Ray, MRIs, musculoskeletal ultrasounds, CT scans, or weight-bearing CT scans. 

If you need surgery, the surgeon will likely use plates, screws, or pins to secure the delicate bones inside your foot and ankle. Otherwise, rest and ice is the most important way to alleviate pain and heal the injury quickly. 

As always, follow your doctor’s recommendations and instructions when it comes to healing any injury, including foot fractures.