Nearly one-fourth of all the bones in your body are in your feet. A broken (fractured) bone in your foot or ankle is often painful, but rarely disabling. Most of the time, these injuries heal without operative treatment.
There are two types of foot fractures: stress fractures and general bone fractures. Stress fractures usually occur in the bones of the forefoot extending from the toes to the middle of the foot. Stress fractures are like tiny cracks in the bone surface. They can happen with sudden increases in exercise (such as running or walking for longer distances or times), improper training techniques, or a change in surfaces.
Most other types of fractures extend through the bone, and are called bone fractures. They may be stable, in which there is no shift in bone alignment, or displaced, in which the bone ends no longer line up properly. Bone fractures usually result from trauma, such as dropping a heavy object on your foot, or from a twisting injury.
When you suffer a fractured ankle, there are generally two root causes – physical trauma or stress. Physical trauma includes such events as a car accident, tripping or falling, or even a severe twist of the ankle. Stress fractures, on the other hand, develop on account of overuse or repetitive forces, such as those sustained during long-distance runs.
Common symptoms for any type of foot or ankle fracture includes pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising. Be sure to seek medical attention for any suspected foot fracture.
The nature of the treatment and care for a foot or ankle fracture depends on the extent of the injury. In mild cases, you may simply need some time off from physical activity. Ice and pain-relievers will also help while your body heals itself. In other cases, the area may need to be immobilized with a cast or brace and weight kept off it for an extended period of time. If your ankle is unstable or the fracture forces the bones out of alignment, then surgery may be required.