Foot And Ankle Fractures: What Are The Treatment Options?

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Foot And Ankle Fractures: What Are The Treatment Options?

Bone fractures of the foot and ankle are some of the most common conditions diagnosed and treated by your podiatrist. Your foot doctor will use a physical examination of the injury and perhaps an analysis of your range of motion to determine if a fracture is likely. If your symptoms and the exam suggest that your injury could be a fracture, your podiatrist may recommend imaging tests such as an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan. With all of this information, your podiatrist can customize a treatment plan to support your healing and ensure you regain optimal mobility and function.

Three Types Of Fractures

There are many different ways to categorize the types and severity of foot and ankle fractures, but for the purpose of exploring treatment options, we will break them down into three types: stress, acute, and compound fractures.

Stress: Stress fractures are small cracks or severe bruising in the bones of the ankles or feet most often caused by overuse or repetitive motions. Stress fractures can also be the result of osteoporosis or other diseases. Symptoms include swelling, tenderness, bruising, and pain that diminishes during rest.

Acute: These fractures are partial or complete breaks to bones in the foot or ankle due to sudden injury. Acute fractures are often accompanied by immediate searing or throbbing pain, significant swelling and bruising, and deformity at the injury site. Sometimes you may hear the bone break and often bearing weight on your foot will not be possible.

Compound: This is the most severe fracture we will discuss. A compound fracture is when the broken bone pierces through the soft tissues and skin of your foot or ankle. This type of fracture can result in significant bleeding and damage to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments and should be immediately addressed in an urgent care capacity (proceed to an emergency room or call an ambulance). 


Treating A Stress Fracture

If you are experiencing pain and symptoms that suggest a stress fracture, book an appointment with your podiatrist. Ignoring these symptoms could result in a full break. While you wait to see your podiatrist, RICE treatment can help you manage pain and swelling. RICE stands for:

Rest: Avoid movement and weight-bearing activities.
Ice: Manage swelling and pain by applying ice wrapped in a cloth or towel to your injury site for 20 minutes several times a day.
Compression: Use a soft bandage to wrap the injured area to reduce swelling.
Elevate: When resting, try to keep the injured foot higher than your heart.

Your foot doctor may recommend these treatments for your stress fracture:

  • Modified Activity: The first course of treatment is typically to give your stress fractures time to heal by limiting movement and other weight-bearing activities.
  • Protective Footwear: This may mean a stiff-soled shoe, a fracture brace shoe, or even custom orthotics to support healing.
  • Casting: Your podiatrist may recommend casting to immobilize your foot and ankle while your fracture heals. This could be a plaster or fiberglass cast or a removable boot cast. Your podiatrist may suggest you use crutches or a mobility scooter to keep weight off of your injury.
  • Surgery: If less invasive treatments are not working, your foot doctor may recommend surgery. This will likely involve the use of pins, screws, and/or plates to hold and support the bone structures while they heal.


Treating An Acute Fracture

Acute fractures need to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Leaving these fractures unattended could compromise your ability to recover without surgery. Your doctor may recommend these treatments for your acute fracture:

  • Casting: Casting is almost always necessary to allow an acute fracture to heal. Depending on the severity of the break, you will likely be required to wear a cast for 6-8 weeks. As with a stress fracture, this could be a plaster or fiberglass cast or a removable boot cast. Your podiatrist may suggest you use crutches or a mobility scooter to keep weight off of your injury.
  • Surgery: If casting is not working to allow your fracture to heal, if your break was severe, or if your podiatrist is unable to realign your bones with physical manipulation, you will need surgery. Your surgeon will use pins, screws, and/or plates to reinforce the structures of your foot and encourage proper healing.


Treatment Options For Foot And Ankle Fractures in NYC

Stress fractures and acute fractures should never be ignored. Delaying or avoiding treatment could result in more severe or even permanent impairment to movement or mobility. If you have suffered a compound foot or ankle fracture seek immediate emergency care. For stress and acute foot and ankle fractures, consult with the podiatrists at To Healthy Feet in NYC. Our expert team of foot doctors in Manhattan can expertly assess and diagnose the cause of your pain and customize a treatment plan based on your specific injury and your lifestyle. We provide access to advanced foot and ankle care and have the tools and technologies necessary to provide a variety of tailored treatment approaches at each of our Manhattan Podiatry Clinics. If you are experiencing undiagnosed pain due to a possible foot or ankle fracture or any other foot or ankle condition, call To Healthy Feet Podiatry at 1-917-398-3668 or fill out the contact form to book your appointment at our Upper East Side, Times Square, Midtown Grand Central, or Downtown Wall Street locations today.



Q: What is the difference between a fracture and a break?
A: Nothing, a fracture and a break can be used interchangeably. They do not denote severity or location.

Q: Can I speed up the healing after a foot or ankle fracture?
A: Maintaining a healthy diet and refraining from smoking will help provide the bone with the best environment for healing but it typically takes bones 6-8 weeks to heal. Activity on a fractured bone prematurely can lead to long-term issues with structure and function.

Q: Why do some breaks require surgery?
A: If the bone is out of place, it will not be able to heal properly. Making sure that the bone is put into the proper alignment is what allows healing to take place. If the bone is already in place, it won't require surgery. If it is out of place, surgery will be used to put it back in place.

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