How To Treat a Foot Fracture

Fracturing your foot can be one of the most painful injuries you will ever encounter.  If you happen to fracture your heel, or calcaneus (as the doctors refer to it), it can have you off your feet for a long time. The number one cause for a fractured heel is having a car accident.  Your foot gets caught between the gas pedal and the back of the floor boards.  The second reason is falling.  Many hikers and rock climbers fall and land incorrectly on their feet.  This also happens to contractors that fall off their ladders. Around the holidays the hospitals always see a rise in the number of people that fall while stringing up their holiday lights outside.

The way the orthopedic surgeons describe a foot fracture is to compare it to a small bomb exploding inside your foot.  It explodes and affects each layer inside your foot until it reaches the surface, which is why you will usually see one or more fracture blisters.  They are big and ugly but will go away.

The first step with a foot fracture is to get it into a compression bandage.  You will be referred to a local orthopedic surgeon if you do not already have one of your own.  The surgeon will want to wait until the swelling has gone down before making any decisions.  Most times you are sent home from the hospital until your surgeon sees your x rays from the hospital and has a visit with you in person.

Ice and elevate are words that you will come to live by. Ice helps relieve swelling and so does elevation. You will be advised to keep the swollen part above the level of your heart.  This means that you will need to keep your fractured foot elevated.  Most doctors will tell you to place a large bottom cushion from your sofa at the bottom of your bed and to then put bed pillows on top.  This will help keep your fractured foot from rolling off as you fall asleep. If it does roll off you might wake up to find it swollen again.

Once the swelling has gone down enough, your orthopedic surgeon will want to discuss your treatment options with you. He might advise you to have surgery to install a plate and screws to hold your fractured heel together.  The surgeon will give you your best options for treating your foot fracture.

Either way, you will need to stay at rest with your fractured foot iced and elevated for about 4-6 weeks.  Your orthopedist will want to see you often as you recover.  Once you get the go ahead, you will be referred for physical therapy treatment.  Depending upon the degree of your injury, you could go there for about 3-4 months.


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