Jan 06, 2011

How Fractures in the Foot Occur and How You Can Treat Them

Leading orthopaedic surgeon Simon Moyes explains how fractures in the foot occur and how to treat them.

Our feet are made up of 26 tiny bones, all of which can be broken very easily.

There are two types of break that can occur in the foot; traumatic fractures and stress fractures.


A traumatic fracture can be caused by a direct blow or impact to the foot such as seriously stubbing your toe. Surgery is not always essential – however, if the fracture is displaced, surgery is likely.

Stress fractures are tiny, hairline breaks caused by repetitive actions. Typically, they are very common in athletes and runners, but they can also be caused by foot deformities, osteoporosis or from wearing ill-fitting shoes.

If you have a traumatic fracture, you might hear a sound at the time of the break and be able to pinpoint pain at the point of impact. This pain will subside after a few hours. Bruising and swelling may develop the day after the injury and the bone may look misshapen.

Stress fractures can be contrastingly pain free while you are resting, however, standing on the affected area or resuming activity to quickly can be very painful. Swelling may develop but no bruising will appear.

After a physical examination, an x-ray will be taken to verify the extent and exact location of the fracture. But even x-rays can miss early stress fractures.

Surgery may be required for displaced traumatic fractures. The displaced bones are anatomically re-aligned and held in place with fixation devices such as small screws and small metal plates.

After the procedure, you will have to wear a cast for between four and six weeks, during which time, depending on the extent of the fracture, you may not be able to put any weight on the affected area.

Simon Moyes is an internationally renowned orthopaedic surgeon. His Capital Orthopaedics team works at Basinghall Clinic in London, with its state-of-the-art diagnostic and surgical equipment, and top sports medicine professionals. Contact Simon Moyes for an expert diagnosis and treatment of foot injuries.

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