Common Diagnoses:
Toe & Foot Fracture

Overview

Nearly one-fourth of all the bones in your body are in your feet, which provide you with both support and movement. A broken (fractured) bone in your forefoot (metatarsals) or in one of your toes (phalanges) often is painful but rarely disabling. Most of the time, these injuries heal without surgery. Since a dislocation can be mistaken for a toe fracture, it is important to obtain X-rays to ensure a correct diagnosis.

Symptoms

Pain, swelling, and bruising are the most common signs of a fracture in the foot. If you have a broken toe, you may be able to walk but this usually aggravates the pain. If the pain, swelling, and discoloration continue for more than 2-3 days, or if pain interferes with walking, something could be seriously wrong; see your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon as soon as possible. If you delay getting treatment, you could develop persistent foot pain and arthritis. Pain also can change the way you walk (your gait), which could lead to painful calluses on the bottom of your foot or other issues.

Diagnosis

Your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon will examine your foot to pinpoint the central area of tenderness and compare the injured foot to the normal foot. You should tell your surgeon when the pain started, what you were doing at the time, and if there was any injury to the foot. X-rays will show most fractures of the forefoot and should be obtained standing if possible to improve diagnostic accuracy. A CT scan or MRI may be needed if the fracture enters a joint, or if X-rays fail to reveal an injury.

Treatment

Your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon will examine your foot to pinpoint the central area of tenderness and compare the injured foot to the normal foot. You should tell your surgeon when the pain started, what you were doing at the time, and if there was any injury to the foot. X-rays will show most fractures of the forefoot and should be obtained standing if possible to improve diagnostic accuracy. A CT scan or MRI may be needed if the fracture enters a joint, or if X-rays fail to reveal an injury.