A broken foot, or foot fracture, is a break in one or more of the bones in your foot. There are numerous causes of fractures including a sports injury, a fall, or other accident. A compound, or open, fracture occurs when a bone breaks through the skin. A break that does not poke through the skin is a closed fracture. Your treatment depends on the location and type of break in your foot.
You may need a splint, a cast, or an orthopedic shoe. Certain kinds of injuries may need surgery at some time depending on the amount of displacement or instability. Whatever your treatment, you can ease symptoms and help your foot heal with care at home. Depending on the type of fracture it may be necessary to be non-weight bearing or partial weight bearing with use of a crutches or walker. You may need 6 to 8 weeks or more to fully heal.
Noncompliance with fracture care can lead to non-unions which is incomplete healing of fractures. Treatment of non-unions may include surgery, additional immobilization, and bone stimulators.
A stress fracture is a thin, or hairline, crack in a bone. A stress fracture usually happens from repeated pressure on the foot, like running or jumping. You may need 6 to 8 weeks to heal.
Treatment depends on where the fracture is and how much pain it causes. Do not return to your usual exercises until your doctor says you can. Continued use of an injured foot can make the break worse or keep it from healing.
Compartment syndrome is a serious condition that involves increased pressure in a muscle compartment. It can lead to muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow. Compartment syndrome typically secondary to traumatic fractures and is considered a medical emergency.
Thick layers of tissue, called fascia, separate groups of muscles in the arms and legs from each other. Inside each layer of fascia is a confined space, called a compartment. The compartment includes the muscle tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. Fascia surrounds these structures, similar to the way in which insulation covers wires.
Fascia do not expand. Any swelling in a compartment will lead to increased pressure in that area. This raised pressure, presses the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. If this pressure is high enough, blood flow to the compartment will be blocked. This can lead to permanent injury to the muscle and nerves. If the pressure lasts long enough, the muscles may die and the arm or leg will no longer be functional. Surgery or even amputation may be done to correct the problem.
Acute compartment syndrome may be caused by:
Trauma, such as a crush injury or surgery
Very bruised muscle
A cast or bandage that is too tight
Loss of blood supply due to the use of a tourniquet or positioning during surgery
Long-term (chronic) compartment syndrome can be caused by repetitive activities, such as running. The pressure in a compartment only increases during that activity and goes down after the activity is stopped. This condition is usually less limiting and does not lead to loss of function or limb. However, the pain can limit activity and endurance.