Westlake Kensington Square, 28687 Center Ridge Road
(440) 871-3400

Lakewood 3386 Warren Road
(216) 671-7440

Lorain 1740 Cooper Foster Park Rd. West Suite B
440-282-1221

Wellington 508 Dickson St.
1-888-961-8038

Toe and metatarsal Fractures

The structure of your foot is complex, consisting of bones, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Of the 26 bones in your foot, 19 are toe bones (phalanges) and metatarsal bones (the long bones in the midfoot). Fractures of the toe and metatarsal bones are common and require evaluation by a specialist. Corrigan Podiatry should be seen for proper diagnosis and treatment, even if initial treatment has been received in an emergency room.

First, what is a fracture? A fracture is a break in the bone. Fractures can be divided into two categories: traumatic fractures and stress fractures.

Traumatic Fractures

(also called acute fractures) are caused by a direct blow or impact like seriously stubbing your toe. Traumatic fractures can be displaced or nondisplaced. If the fracture is displaced, the bone is broken in such a way that it has changed in position (dislocated). Treatment of a traumatic fracture depends on the location and extent of the break and whether it is displaced. Surgery is sometimes required.

Signs and symptoms of a traumatic fracture include:

  • A sound at the time of the break.
  • "Pinpoint pain" (pain at the place of impact) at the time the fracture occurs and perhaps for a few hours later, though often the pain goes away after several hours.
  • Deviation (misshapen or abnormal appearance) of the toe.
  • Bruising and swelling the next day.
  • It is not true that "if you can walk on it, it's not broken." Evaluation by the podiatric surgeon is always recommended.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are tiny, hairline breaks usually caused by repetitive stress. Stress fractures often afflict athletes who, for example, too rapidly increase their running mileage. Or they may be caused by an abnormal foot structure, deformities, or osteoporosis. Improper footwear may also lead to stress fractures. Stress fractures should not be ignored, because they will come back unless properly treated.

Symptoms of stress fractures include:

  • Pain with or after normal activity
  • Pain that goes away when resting and then returns when standing or during activity
  • "Pinpoint pain" (pain at the site of the fracture) when touched
  • Swelling, but no bruising

Is it a fracture or a sprain?

Sprains and fractures have similar symptoms, although sometimes with a sprain the whole area hurts rather than just one point. A Corrigan Podiatry doctor will be able to diagnose which you have and provide appropriate treatment. Certain sprains or dislocations can be severely disabling. Without proper treatment they can lead to crippling arthritis.

Consequences of Improper Treatment

Some people say that "the doctor can't do anything for a broken bone in the foot." This is usually not true. In fact, if a fractured toe or metatarsal bone is not treated correctly, serious complications may develop.

For example:

  • A deformity in the bony architecture which may limit the ability to move the foot or cause difficulty in fitting shoes.
  • Arthritis, which may be caused by a fracture in a joint (the juncture where two bones meet), or may be a result of angular deformities that develop when a displaced fracture is severe or hasn't been properly corrected.
  • Chronic pain and long-term dysfunction.
  • Non-union, or failure to heal, which can lead to subsequent surgery or chronic pain.

The preceding is for informational purposes only. The material is derived from the current medical knowledge on the topics listed. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This site does not provide medical advice.  A special "thank you" is extended to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, as much of the information is derived from their literature and websites.

Office Hours for Corrigan Podiatry

Westlake

9:00 - 5:00

Warren Rd.

Closed

Westlake

9:00 – 5:00

Warren Rd.

9:00 - 12:00

Westlake

9:00 - 5:00

Warren Rd.

Closed

Westlake

9:00 – 4:00

Warren Rd.

9:00 - 12:00

Westlake

9:00 – 4:00

Warren Rd.

Closed

Two a month Westlake / Lakewood

With full

Surgery staff

9:00 - 12:00

Call for Details

Wellington

One Saturday / Month

We will be happy to visit qualified homebound patients.

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