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Foot Fracture in Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 4, 2023.

What do I need to know about a foot fracture?

A foot fracture is a break in a bone in your foot.

Foot Anatomy

What are the signs and symptoms of a foot fracture?

  • Tenderness over the injured area
  • Foot pain that increases when you try to stand or walk
  • Numbness in your foot or toes
  • Cracking sounds when you move your foot
  • Swelling, bruising, blistering, or open skin breaks
  • Trouble moving your foot or walking
  • Foot shape that is not normal

How is a foot fracture diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your foot and check for decreased feeling. He or she will check for any open skin breaks. He or she may check your foot movement. You may need any of the following tests:

  • An x-ray, CT scan, or MRI may be used to check for a broken bone or other injury. Contrast liquid may be used to help your foot show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • A bone scan may be used to check for a broken bone. You will be given a small amount of radioactive dye in an IV. Pictures will then be taken of your foot.

How is a foot fracture treated?

Treatment depends on the kind of fracture you have and how bad it is. You may need any of the following:

  • A boot, cast, or splint may be put on your foot and lower leg to decrease your foot movement. These work to hold the broken bones in place, decrease pain, and prevent more damage to your foot.
  • Medicines may be given to prevent or treat pain or a bacterial infection. You may also need a vaccine to prevent tetanus if bone broke through the skin. A tetanus shot is given if you have not had a booster in the past 5 to 10 years.
  • Surgery may be used to put your bones back into the correct position. Wires, pins, plates, or screws may be used to keep the broken pieces lined up correctly and hold them together.

What can I do to help my foot heal?

  • Rest your foot and avoid activities that cause pain.
  • Apply ice to decrease swelling and pain, and to prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel before you apply it. Use ice for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
  • Elevate your foot above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your foot on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
    Elevate Leg
  • Physical therapy may be needed when your foot has healed. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and short of breath.
  • You have chest pain when you take a deep breath or cough.
  • You cough up blood.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • The pain in your injured foot gets worse even after you rest and take pain medicine.
  • The skin or toes of your foot become numb, swollen, cold, white, or blue.
  • You have more pain or swelling than you did before a cast was put on.
  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have new sores around your boot, cast, or splint.
  • You have new or worsening trouble moving your foot.
  • You notice a foul smell coming from under your cast.
  • Your boot, cast, or splint gets damaged.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.