Foot Fracture Treatment Tips

A fracture is a break in your bone or the surrounding cartilage, and the severity of a foot fracture can range from what is called a “hairline” or “stress” fracture to a full break across the foot. A foot fracture will cause significant discomfort, especially because the foot is a weight-bearing bone. Fractures of the feet are most common in runners, basketball players, football players, or anyone who exerts much force and strain on the feet. Fractures are very serious and should not be left untreated by a medical professional; however, you can treat a foot fracture on site if you suspect such an injury.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:
Treating a Minor Fracture at Home

Recognize the symptoms of a fracture in your foot.
Foot fracture symptoms often start out as a slight discomfort towards the front of the foot, where most of the force and pressure is exerted. Many times, this pain is very slight and the onset is only during long periods of exercise, running or working out; this is called a “stress fracture” and is actually a tiny crack in the bone.[1]
As soon as you stop your activity, the pain often vanishes. This leads many people to disregard and not even consider a fracture.[2]
Other symptoms include swelling, throbbing pain, and discoloration or bruising.[3]

Learn the “RICE” treatment plan. According to board certified podiatrist Neal Blitz, the general principles of fracture treatment are rest, ice, compression, and elevation.[4] This is universal for any kind of bone fracture or stress fracture, and is the best way to treat a fracture at home for the first 72 hours after your injury or until you can seek medical care.[5]
Rest. Immediately stop what you are doing and refrain from any activities that cause pain to your foot. No more exercising, running, or whatever it was you were doing when you felt the pain; stop and get off your feet. Board certified podiatrist Neal Blitz agrees that it’s important to immobilize the area and stay off of it as much as possible so the fracture doesn’t shift and become worse.[6]
Ice. As soon as possible, put ice on the injured area. If your foot is fractured, it will soon start to swell, if it hasn’t already. Do not apply heat, which would encourage more blood to rush to the area and make the swelling worse. Ice it down. Using crushed ice in a damp tea towel, ice the area for 20 minutes every two hours.[7]
Compression. According to board certified podiatrist Neal Blitz, wrapping the injured area in a bandage fairly snugly can help reduce swelling.[8] Be careful that it’s not so tight that it cuts off the circulation; you’ll know it’s too tight if you experience numbness, tingling, or discoloration.[9] Leave the toes unbandaged if possible to easily check the circulation.
Elevation. Sit down or lie down, but keep the injured foot elevated. The idea is to keep the injured foot above the level of your heart in order to decrease swelling.[10]

Take some acetaminophen. Your fracture is likely to cause some considerable pain, so treat the pain safely while promoting healing in your bones.
Avoid naproxen sodium and ibuprofen, which some doctors believe have the potential to delay the healing process with bone injuries.[11]

Go see your personal physician. As soon as the pain and swelling have subsided, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
She will likely order some X-rays of your foot to confirm your self-diagnosis.
You may need a cast in conjunction with either a walking boot or crutches, depending upon the severity of the fracture.
She may also refer you to a physical or occupational therapist or athletic trainer if needed, particularly if the fracture is severe or if you need help to safely exercise again.

Part 2
Part 2 of 3:
Treating An Emergency Fracture Due to Trauma

Keep the person calm. When a bone is fractured severely due to trauma (like a car crash) or a fall, it is common for the victim to go into a state of shock, which can shut down the body’s ability to repair and regulate. It’s important that you keep the person as calm as possible until emergency help arrives, or until you can transport them to the hospital.
Talk in a soothing voice and reassure the person that you are there to help and that you will not leave her. Let her know help is on the way, or tell her that you will transport her to the hospital.
Try to keep her as comfortable as possible, in a laying position. Keep her warm, keep crowds back, and give her small sips of water.
Learn to recognize and treat symptoms of shock like sudden shortness of breath, paleness, sweating, dissociation, and dizziness; call 911 if the person does go into shock.

Assess the fracture. Most fractures to the foot may be very painful but are not severe. But sometimes a traumatic injury like a car wreck or a very heavy object falling onto the foot can cause a very serious injury.
If a bone is visible, the foot joint is out of place or the foot looks deformed or misshapen, or the person is losing a lot of blood, call 911 immediately.
Even in closed fractures of the foot, if the toes are pale and cold and you are unable to find a pedal pulse (a pulse felt on the top of the foot), call 911.

Stop any bleeding and immobilize the fracture. Place ABV pads or other clean, padded-type cloth over the wound. Do not attempt to bandage, as this will aggravate the injury. If you have a blanket or a pillow, long bandages or pins, you can make a support splint for the injury. Board certified podiatrist Neal Blitz recommends using a surgical shoe or boot to immobilize the area if you have one on hand.[12]
Take a blanket folded into a 2′ by 3′ length or a pillow and gently place it in a horizontal alignment under the heel, supporting the foot while you have to move it. Fold the pillow/blanket gently up on either side of the ankle and secure with pins or a bandage wrapped securely.
Then pin or bandage the area at the far end of the structure up around the fracture, keeping pressure gentle but firm. This makes a great, low-tech splint for injuries and allows doctors to see the damage without removing the support.
These pillow splints can be used for closed fractures as well, as they fulfill the requirement of having the joint above the injury site immobilized.

Part 3
Part 3 of 3:
Seeking Medical Help

Head to the emergency room. If you suspect that someone has a broken foot, it’s important that he receives medical treatment to assess the severity of the break and devise a treatment plan.
A doctor can ensure that the diagnosis of a break is correct and that the pain in the foot is not caused by another condition.

Get your foot X-rayed. At the hospital or doctor’s office, your practitioner will conduct a series of examinations and tests, most likely including an X-ray of the bones in the foot.
An X-ray will show whether the bone is fractured severely or if it only has a hairline fracture, or if there is no fracture at all.
The X-ray is the only way to definitely know that the foot is fractured, unless it is so severely broken that the fractured bone can be felt with the hands.

Follow the treatment plan. Depending on the severity and location of the break, your doctor will advise a treatment plan to minimize further injury and promote healing of the bones. Board certified podiatrist Neal Blitz warns that a more severe break may require a cast, surgical shoe, or air boot.[13]
For a very minor break, this might just involve keeping the foot elevated and avoiding bearing weight on it until the bone is healed.
Some very severe breaks may require surgery and/or the placement of metal plates in the foot to repair the break.



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