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Foot Fracture in Children


What is a foot fracture?

A foot fracture is a break in one or more of the bones in your child's foot. Foot fractures are commonly caused by trauma, falls, or repeated stress injuries.

Foot Anatomy

What are the signs and symptoms of a foot fracture?

  • Pain and swelling in the injured foot
  • Decreased ability to move the foot or walk
  • Bruising or open breaks in the skin of the injured foot
  • A different shape to your child's foot

How is a foot fracture diagnosed?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child's foot. He will check for feeling or movement loss. He will check for any open breaks in the skin. Your child may also need any of the following tests:

  • X-ray: Healthcare providers use these pictures of your child's foot to check for broken bones.
  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's foot. The pictures may show broken bones or other foot injuries. Your child may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your child's foot. An MRI may show a fracture or other foot injuries. Your child may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not let your child enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any metal in or on his body.
  • Bone scan: Your child will be given a small, safe amount of radioactive dye in an IV. Pictures are then taken of his foot bones to look for fractures.

How is a foot fracture treated?

  • Cast or splint: Your child may need a cast or splint on his foot and lower leg. This will keep his foot from moving and help his foot heal.
  • Medicines:
    • Pain medicine: Your child may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give this medicine to your child.
    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help prevent or treat an infection caused by bacteria.
    • Tetanus shot: This is a shot of medicine to prevent your child from getting tetanus. He may need this if he has breaks in his skin from the injury. He should have a tetanus shot if he has not had one in the past 5 to 10 years.
  • Surgery: Healthcare providers use wires or screws to return bones to their normal positions.

What are the risks of a foot fracture?

Surgery or an open wound may cause your child to get an infection. He may also bleed more than expected. Your child's foot may not heal without treatment. His foot may be deformed if the fracture heals on its own. He may not be able to move his foot as well as he did before.

How can I help my child's foot heal?

  • Rest: Your child may need to rest his foot. He may need to avoid activities that caused the fracture or that cause pain while the fracture heals.
  • Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel, and place it on your child's foot for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
  • Elevate: Have your child raise his foot above the level of his heart as often as he can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Have him prop his foot on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
    Elevate Limb

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child's cast has new blood stains or a foul smell.
  • Your child has more swelling than he did before the cast or splint was put on.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your child has increased pain that does not go away even after he takes pain medicine.
  • Your child's cast breaks or is damaged.
  • Your child's leg or toes feel numb.
  • Your child's skin or toenails become swollen, cold, or turn white or blue.
  • Blood soaks through your child's splint or cast.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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 IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

Further information

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

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