FRACTURES OF THE FOOT AND ANKLE
Fractures of the foot and ankle (synonymous with a broken bone) are typically the result of high impact or traumatic events. In some instances, they may involve some sort of abnormal twisting or caused by sudden motions on uneven surfaces. Bone stock plays a role as well, meaning the thickness and overall health of your bones (ex. someone who has osteoporosis is more prone to fractures). Symptoms include moderate to severe pain, and typically presents with an overall inability to place weight or pressure on the fracture site. In addition to just having a broken bone, fractures may also present with tendon or ligament injuries. In higher trauma injuries, tendons/ligaments are often torn and will need further examination. Fractures are also associated with early onset arthritis, especially if left untreated due to potentially poor joint alignment. There several types of fractures, but for sake of simplicity we will focus on 2 major types:
The term non-displaced fracture means that the fracture site or line is in good overall alignment in respect to the rest of the bone. In most healthy patients, there is a good chance that conservative treatment with immobilization will be enough to allow the fracture and associated ligaments to heal in the correct position. It typically takes 4-6 weeks for bone to heal, but there shouldn't be any of the risks or recovery time associated with surgery.
Stress fractures are a sub-type of non-displaced fractures. They are usually one of the milder forms of fractures. Stress fractures typically arise as part of an overuse syndrome and are most commonly seen in runners, especially those who might've pushed themselves harder than usual. Much like non-displaced fractures, stress fractures are dealt with in a conservative manner with immobilization as a first line treatment.
Displaced fractures refer to a break in the bone which is in poor overall alignment. These are usually higher energy breaks (which can also yield multiple fractures/breaks). If untreated, displaced fractures can lead to premature arthritis through poor overall alignment of joints. Also, the higher level of trauma usually associated with these injuries mean a higher likelihood of tendon/ligament tears. These fractures usually require some form of surgical intervention (usually in the fashion of plates and screws to put the pieces back together, also some soft tissue repairs may be necessary). However, each case is different and if any conservative options are possible we usually like to try those first.
The first thing we do for anyone who has recently encountered a traumatic event or suspect they may have a fracture is obtain an image with our digital X-ray machine to better assess the skeletal structure. From there we will give you further treatment recommendations.
If you suspect you may have a fracture, please get in touch with us ASAP for an evaluation and treatment. The sooner you seek treatment, the better the outcome tends to be!