Bones are tasked with providing structure for our bodies. With this being the case, it only stands to reason that they don’t have much “give” in them and will break in response to excessive force. Fortunately, the human body has amazing abilities to repair itself when issues arise, including being able to mend a fractured bone. It is our responsibility here at Southern Tier Podiatry to ensure that our patients foot and ankle fractures heal in the correct manner.
Foot and Ankle Bones
The feet and ankles are remarkably complex biomechanical structures. They are responsible for providing both mobility and stability for the body. To accomplish these objectives, the feet alone are comprised of a total of 52 bones (one-quarter of your body’s total) that are connected and supported by many ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
Types of Foot and Ankle Fractures
When a patient suffers from a broken bone, one of the first steps is to evaluate the extent of the injury and then give it an appropriate identification. Bone fractures can be classified as:
- Simple – A simple fracture happens in response to physical trauma and the broken pieces of the bone are lined up and will heal normally if kept stable.
- Compound (or Open) – Unlike a simple fracture, the pieces of bone in a compound fracture are not lined up in proper position to heal correctly. In some instances, a piece of bone will puncture the skin; we refer to this as an open fracture.
- Stress – Whereas simple and compound fractures often happen from an isolated source of physical trauma, stress fractures develop over time from an accumulation of forces. This is a fairly common overuse injury.
To properly diagnose which kind of fracture you have sustained, we will likely require an imaging test, like an X-ray, CT (computerized tomography) scan, or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). In some cases, a bone scan can also be utilized.
When it comes to treating bone fractures, the body does the majority of the heavy lifting, but we are responsible for ensuring that bones are lined up correctly and the area is stabilized. Some of the tools and forms of treatment we might use include buddy digital taping, casting, immobilization CAM walkers, stiff-soled surgical shoes, crutches, medication, and conservative care methods (rest, ice, elevation). In cases of a compound fracture, we may need to perform surgery to line up the broken bone pieces so they heal correctly.
It is important to note that treatment for an open fracture should begin with seeking immediate medical care. Do not attempt to push the bone back inside the wound. Instead, try to control any bleeding, keep the area clean, and wait for trained medical personnel to arrive on the scene.
Stress Fracture Prevention Tips
Whereas the other types of fractures often result from sources of physical trauma that can be difficult to prevent—typically accidents (sports, auto, etc.)—there are actually measures you can take to reduce the risk of developing a stress fracture. Keep your lower limbs safe by:
- Wearing proper footwear. Shoes should be activity-appropriate, fit correctly, and provide ample cushioning and arch support. If running shoes are worn out—usually after 500 miles—they should be replaced.
- Make gradual changes in physical activity. When starting a new workout or exercise program, start at low levels of intensity and duration and slowly build them up over time. This will allow your body to adjust to the greater physical demands you are placing upon it.
- Cross-train. This is a great tip for providing a better overall level of fitness, but incorporating low-impact activities like cycling, swimming, and yoga into your workout can reduce your risk of developing a stress fracture.
- Eat well. Proper nutrition, including a diet rich in calcium and other essential nutrients, will help keep your bone healthy and strong
Fracture Care in Greater Binghamton
When you do experience the painful symptoms that accompany bone fractures in your foot or ankle, come see us here at Southern Tier Podiatry. We will evaluate the extent of the damage, properly diagnose your injury, and then provide effective treatment so the bone tissue mends correctly. Call our office, centrally located in Broome County, NY at (607) 217-5668 or schedule an appointment with our online form today.