Fun fact: Nearly one-fourth of all the bones in your body are in your feet! A broken or fractured bone in your forefoot or in one of your toes can be quite painful, but rarely debilitating. Most of the time, these injuries heal without operative treatment.
There are two types of foot fractures: stress fractures and general bone fractures. Stress fractures frequently occur in the bones of the forefoot extending from the toes to the middle of the foot. Stress fractures are like tiny cracks in the bone surface. Rapid increases in exercise (such as running or walking for longer distances or times) can induce these fractures, as well as improper training techniques, or a change in surfaces.
Bone factures, another type of fracture, extend through the bone. They may be stable, meaning there is no shift in bone alignment, or they may be displaced, in which the bone ends do not line up properly. Bone fractures typically result from trauma, such as dropping a heavy object on your foot, or from a twisting injury. When the fractured bone does not break through the skin, it is called a closed fracture. When the fracture does break through the skin, it is called an open fracture.
Because of the compound structures in the foot, there are some other, more specific types of fractures that can occur. For example, the fifth metatarsal, known as the little or pinky toe, is susceptible to a variety of different fractures. The relationship between the ankle and the foot can be compromised by an ankle-twisting injury, which may tear the tendon that attaches to this bone and pull a small piece of the bone away. A more serious injury in the same area is known as a Jones fracture, which occurs near the base of the bone and disrupts its blood supply. This injury may take longer to heal or require surgery.
Common symptoms for any type of foot fracture includes pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising. If you suspect any type of foot fracture, be sure to seek medical attention immediately.