Having a broken foot can be a serious problem. Although it is not life-threatening, it prevents you from doing your routine daily activities. Your productivity can be greatly compromised and it can also put a dent in your career if you are an athlete.
Foot fractures account for an estimated 10 percent of all the fracture injuries. Each of your feet consists of 26 bones that work together to facilitate your movements. If you don’t want your feet injured and end up having a broken foot, then you might want to consider paying more attention to it.
When you have a broken foot, it simply means that the bones in your foot sustained a fracture or a crack. If one of your feet hit a hard surface or something heavy was accidentally dropped on it, your foot might get broken in several ways.
A fracture injury may be either non-displaced or displaced. In a non-displaced broken foot, there is a crack in your bone but the bone may still maintain proper alignment. On the other hand, a displaced foot fracture does not only present with cracked or broken bones but the bones are also completely separated or misaligned.
Your broken foot can also be categorized as a closed fracture or an open fracture. In a closed fracture, your skin is not torn by the broken bones and in an open fracture, your skin is torn and some of the bones of your foot stick out.
Who Are at Risk?
People who are at risk of sustaining broken foot are those who:
- Participate in sports activities, especially sports which involve a lot of twisting of the ankle. It may be basketball, soccer, gymnastics, and other contact sports.
- Work in construction areas. If you’re working in similar environments, you’re more at risk of suffering from foot fractures secondary to falling objects, falling into holes, or getting injured by machines.
- Live in a home with too much clutter. The presence of too much clutter in your home predisposes you to slips and falls.
- Have poor bone health. If you have weak and brittle bones, you’re more prone to sustaining fractures.
Common causes of a broken foot
Your foot may be fractured or broken due to different causes. Among the most common causes of a broken foot are the following:
- Overuse of the feet due to sports and other activities. When you repeatedly perform strenuous activities that always involve your feet, your feet might get stressed and worn out, consequently putting you at risk for fractures.
- Something heavy dropped on your foot. For example, you’re a construction worker and steel bars accidentally drop on your foot. This is very likely to lead to a bone fracture.
- You landed badly on your feet. If you jumped, tripped or fell from a slightly high place such as the stairs, the impact of landing on your feet might cause your bones to shutter and be broken.
- You are involved in an unexpected impact like a car accident.
Signs and symptoms of a broken foot
It might be difficult to differentiate a broken foot from an ordinary sprain since both are painful, involve swelling and limit range of motion. However, when you experience the following signs and symptoms, it is likely that you have a broken foot.
- There’s a cracking sound. Your foot might have obtained a fracture if you heard a cracking sound when your foot accident occurred.
- Your foot looks deformed. When you have broken bones in your foot, you might observe obvious deformity and misalignment. Your foot might also look odd and distorted.
- Bone is sticking out of your skin. Your foot is obviously broken when some of the bones are already sticking out of your skin. This requires urgent medical care. Rule of thumb: never attempt to push the protruding bone.
- Your foot is swelling. Although swelling also occurs in sprain injuries, the swelling might appear worse in fractures.
- You can’t bear weight on the affected foot. If you try to put your weight on the affected area, the pain intensifies.
- In worse cases, you can no longer move or feel your toes.
First aid tips for a broken foot
The first thing you need to do is to call for medical help. But while waiting for the medical team to arrive, apply the following first aid management to the patient:
- Apply firm pressure if there is bleeding. External bleeding occurs when the foot is bruised or if there are bones sticking out. Use a clean cloth when applying firm pressure.
- Reduce the swelling. Apply an ice pack on the broken area. Do not directly apply ice to the skin.
- Immobilize the broken foot. Avoid moving the affected part too much. Immobilize it by applying a splint or by wrapping a bandage around the injury.
How to speed up the healing process?
Bone healing generally takes 6-12 weeks. To promote faster healing of a broken foot, you may try the following tips:
- Use a scooter that assists with mobility while you are waiting for your injury to heal.
- Increase your caloric intake. Bone healing requires a lot of energy, so you need to eat foods which are high in calories such as whole wheat bread, nuts, beef, and salmon.
- Eat foods that are rich in calcium and protein. Calcium is a key ingredient for bone repair. Foods that are high in calcium include cheese, dairy, and milk products. To promote faster healing and musculoskeletal repair, you should up your protein intake.
- Eat fruits that are rich in vitamin C. Fruits such as oranges, guavas, and strawberries are rich in vitamin C which can help reduce the inflammation.
There are ways to reduce your risk of suffering from a broken foot. When you do sports, always wear comfortable and well-fitted shoes. Doing proper stretches, warm-up, and cool-down exercises are also important in preventing foot injuries. Also, a high protein and calcium diet will never go amiss.