Breaking news: Foot and ankle fractures can lead to major pain, distress, and disruption in your life. Foot bones are tough, but they’re far from impervious to sudden impacts, severe twisting, auto accidents, or even just plain wear and tear.
If you break a bone in your foot or ankle, the last thing you want to do is keep walking on it. Get off your feet, get to the emergency room if you have to, and book an appointment with the Foot & Ankle Specialists of Nevada as soon as possible. We also take same day appointments.
Types of Fractures
Physicians classify fractures in many different ways—by location, bones effected, severity, etc. Generally speaking, there are three broad categories:
- Stress fractures are hairline cracks in the surface of a bone. They are usually caused by overuse and are common in load-bearing metatarsal bones of the arch. They usually don’t need surgery or even casting, but will need plenty of rest time to heal.
- Closed fractures. In closed fractures, the bone is “fully” broken, but has not broken the skin or done significant damage to the surrounding tissue. Closed fractures may be stable, in which the broken bone remains in the correct position and alignment, or unstable, in which at least one part of the bone has shifted out of place.
- Open fractures. Here, a significant unstable fracture has broken the skin and severely damaged surrounding soft tissue structures. If you experience an open fracture, you should attempt to stop the bleeding using firm pressure with a clean cloth, but you should not attempt to pop the bone back in place. Have someone call 911 immediately.
Signs That You May Have Broken a Bone
It’s not always immediately obvious that you’ve broken a bone. Often, stress fractures and stable closed fractures are shrugged off and misattributed to sprains. However, if you note any of the following symptoms, you should consider that a fracture is at least possible:
- Pain, often severe, at the site of the break
- Inability to walk or put weight on the foot
What to Do If You Suspect a Fracture
If you believe that a bone in your foot or ankle may be broken, it is important to avoid putting any weight on the foot and begin RICE treatment (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation):
- Do not bear weight or aggravate the injury.
- Do this for about 20 minutes at a time, on and off, as necessary.
- An athletic wrap around the injury will help control swelling.
- Keep your feet propped up, over chest level if possible.
Next, you should contact our office and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Fractures that are not treated properly can lead to post-traumatic arthritis, chronic pain and weakness, and other long-term complications and consequences.
Treating Foot and Ankle Fractures
Professional treatment from a physician will vary considerably based on the location and type of the break, as well as the extent of the damage to both bone and surrounding tissue. Your activity level, health, and long-term goals may also be a factor in determining the best treatment protocols.
- Stress fractures can usually be treated with simple rest. You can bear weight, but avoid running, playing sports, or engaging in any strenuous activities that would cause pain or aggravate the injury.
- Serious stress fractures and many closed, stable fractures may need an immobilization device—a leg cast, walking boot, or similar device. This will protect the bones from further damage while they heal.
- More complicated or at-risk fractures often require surgery to reposition and/or reconstruct the damaged bones. We may need to use hardware such as pins, screws, wires, or plates to hold the reconstructed bones and joints in place while they heal.
The board-certified physicians of the Foot & Ankle Specialists of Nevada have extensive training in both conservative and surgical treatment of foot and ankle fractures, including advanced techniques in reconstructive surgery. Although we always try to correct your issue non-invasively, we are equipped and trained to provide the best and most current treatment options, whatever your needs may be.
To schedule your appointment with our team in either Las Vegas or Henderson, NV, please call (702) 213-9093 today.