Condition: Foot Fracture

A foot fracture occurs when the bones in the foot are damaged through injury, and break in the process.

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What is a foot fracture?

A foot fracture occurs when the foot is damaged through injury, breaking one or more bones in the foot as a result. This is a common kind of injury, and can occur from any significant physical impact such as falling from jumps, sporting injuries or vehicle accidents. The severity of the fracture can vary greatly. Some fractures are tiny cracks in the bone, whereas others are breaks that pierce the skin and can be seen very easily. If the break is severe, you may require surgical implants to steady the bones position during recovery.

Symptoms of a foot fracture

The main symptoms of a foot fracture include:

  • Immediate and severe pain in the foot
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Deformity
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Pain when resting
  • Dizziness from pain
  • Audible "break" when fracture occurs

If you have experienced a physical incident that has resulted in one or more of the following symptoms, you should go and see a doctor as soon as possible.

Prevention of a foot fracture

To prevent a foot fracture, make sure you take proper precaution on uneven surfaces or when walking across areas with a risk of falling. If taking part in sport, make sure you complete a warm-up that limbers up the feet before starting. If you choose to run on hills, make sure the surface is not too slippery, and to avoid running too fast downhill. 

Additionally, take time to ensure all your clothing/wearables are suited for your body, especially your shoes which should afford significant protection where possible. You can also strengthen your bones by including calcium rich foods, such as cheese and green, leafy vegetables in your diet.

Risk factors of a foot fracture

High risk factor sports such as football, tennis and gymnastics all can cause twisting or direct blows to your foot. Additionally, sudden increases in activity levels such as boosting duration in an exercise or increasing stress levels can cause a fracture. Low lighting levels can cause missteps around the home resulting in painful falls; make sure to declutter and to keep your light levels appropriate. If you suffer from decreased bone density, this is also a major risk factor, so be sure to take extra precaution with sporting activities.

Treatment Options

You may need surgery on your foot if the severity or location of your fracture requires you to do so by a healthcare professional. At OneWelbeck Orthopaedics, we offer surgical care for fractured feet, with same day discharges. 

Why might Foot Fracture Surgery be needed?

You will need surgery on your foot because the severity and location of your fracture requires you to do so by a healthcare professional. Surgery will repair the fractured bone in a better position to reduce the risk of a deformity or loss of function.

What are the risks with Foot Fracture Surgery?

As with any surgery, there can be risks with surgery of the foot. Whilst small, they can include:

  • Residual weakness in the foot
  • Reduced function which may cause a difficulty in walking
  • Infection
  • Possible further surgery if the bone doesn’t heal properly
  • Possible nerve damage

Our leading expert orthopaedic consultants will be able to help with any concerns you may have.

How to prepare for Foot Fracture Surgery

Your consultant will provide you with all the relevant information before your procedure along with any preparation you may need to do in the days leading up to your surgery. It is important to tell your consultant about any medicines you may be taking, including any over the counter pain medicines such as paracetamol or aspirin.

You may need imaging tests before your surgery, including ultrasound, X-ray or an MRI. Do not eat or drink 6 hours before you are due to have surgery otherwise your surgery may be delayed. Please ensure you have a companion available to take you home after you leave OneWelbeck Orthopaedics.

What will happen during my surgery?

An anaesthetist will discuss with you the type of anaesthetic used and the process they will follow so you don’t feel anything. You will be given the opportunity to ask any questions and raise any concerns you may have.

Once you are safely anaesthetised, incisions are made through the skin where the bones are broken in the foot. The bones will be repositioned and held in place with implants which are usually metal. Once the bones are repaired, your surgeon will stitch up where the incision has been made and you will be taken back to your room.

There are specific techniques for the various foot fracture surgeries including the following:

  • Heel bone surgery (Calcaneus) – A fracture of the heel bone can often involve disruption of the joint between the heel bone and ankle bone (talus). To restore the anatomy and realign the joint surface, surgery is needed. By creating an L-shaped incision over the heel, the fracture is realigned, and concentrating on the surface of the joint, is fixed with either a plate, or individual pins/screws.
  • Inside midfoot (Navicular) – This is a common fracture which causes the bone to break in two. An incision is made over the fracture and the two bones are realigned before being secured with either screws, or a plate and screws.
  • Outside midfoot (Cuboid) – This type of fracture is caused by a compression injury resulting in shortening of the outside foot. Cuboid surgery aims to lengthen the outside of the foot with a plate and screws inserted directly to the bone. Once the fracture has healed, the plates and screws are removed.
  • Metatarsal fracture – some metatarsal fractures can be treated without surgery, but sometimes if the injury is more significant, surgery is needed. An incision is made over the fractured metatarsal and is fixed with a combination of pins, screws and plates.

Toes (Phalanges) – Most fractures of the toes can be treated without surgery. Deformities as a result of displaced fracture may need surgery to correct them. The toe is placed into alignment, an incision is made, and a pin is inserted through the tip of the toe to hold the fracture in place. Once the fracture is healed in roughly four to six weeks, the pin can be removed.

What happens after Foot Fracture Surgery?

After your operation, you will be watched by your dedicated nurse at OneWelbeck Orthopaedics for the few hours after your surgery. To stop your foot from moving, you will need to wear a cast or boot which will help the foot to heal. Once you have seen your Consultant you will be able to go home the same day. It is important to keep your foot elevated to give your injury the best chance of healing.

Make sure you follow any advice given to you by your consultant orthopaedic surgeon including any advice on pain relief, wound dressing and any exercises you may be given.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take for me to recover from my surgery?

It will take three to six months before you feel an improvement in the condition of your foot. The swelling may even take over a year to settle down. There are many factors than can impact the full recovery from surgery. Your GP will be able to offer you specific advice on this.

When can I return to work after surgery?

It will wholly depend on the occupation that you have. Due to the variance in the surgery performed, it can vary greatly. Certain patients may return to work during the non-weight bearing period after surgery. Certain occupations with a physical focus will require full recovery before they can return to work.

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Jul 2024


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Condition overview
Foot fracture

Foot Fracture Specialists

We boast a truly integrated team of orthopaedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, podiatric surgeons, rheumatology specialists, paid medicine consultants and hand therapy specialists. All of these services work together in one place, enabling us to give patients the best care possible.