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Foot Fractures

Broken LegAlmost a quarter of the fractures occurring in people are foot fractures. Even though people have the tendency to neglect taking care of feet, nevertheless the feet are important parts of the human body. Feet perform the primary function of locomotion in humans. The human feet have relatively strong bones and muscles, yet, they are agile and can withstand heavy loads and wear and tear for many years. However due to the changing food habits and unbalanced diet as well as other reasons foot fractures are on the rise. Foot fractures can be extremely painful and, healing fractures may take many weeks if not months in the absence of proper care. 

1. Causes. Fractures of the foot bones are quite common. Either they are caused by falls, twisting injuries, or by direct impact of the foot against hard objects. The most common causes for foot bone fractures are falls, twisting of feet, accidents, bumping feet into objects, falling objects etc. The inherent causes are osteoporosis, calcium deficiency, improper diet etc. Even though the inherent causes are not directly responsible for fractures but they do tend to increase the susceptibility to foot fractures.

2. Diagnosis. Diagnosis of foot fracture is invariably done through X-rays. However computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can also be used for detecting foot fractures. The most common fracture symptom that a layman can use for detection of fractures is extreme pain and immediate swelling in the accident area. However swelling can occur due to many other reasons also and one must not panic at every swelling that occurs.

3. Types of foot fractures. The foot fractures can be classified into various types depending upon the classifying criteria. The first one is simple and the second is compound fractures. Compound fractures have more than one fracture whereas simple fractures have a single fracture. Open fractures are termed as those fractures in which the bone breaks out of the skin surface and is visible. In closed fractures the bone is broken but within the skin. The common way to classify a foot fracture is the location of the fracture on the foot that is the bone which is broken. Broken Leg XrayToe fractures. Technically known as phalange, toe fractures are very common. Simple fractures in the toes other than the big toe can heal without a cast. Usually splinting of the toe or fastening the toe with other toes using Velcro is done. The healing process takes several weeks. Usually stiff soled shoes with wide soft shoes are used to provide support and protection to the toes. The big toe fractures known as hallux fractures are very painful and usually require surgery. If the toe is abnormally bent or twisted it needs to be realigned. Sesamoid fractures. Sesamoid bones are two small bones just under the toe. The common reasons for fracture of these bones are from running, jumping or coming down too hard on the ball of the foot usually in games like basket ball and badminton. These types of fractures need a cast. Also special insoles in shoes help reduce the pain. If the pain continues, the sesamoid bone may be removed surgically.Stress fractures in foot. Stress fracture is a very common term. In this, the bones do not break completely but there may be swelling in the bones or a splinter of bone can come out of the parent bone from one side. As the name suggests, stress fractures occur due to too much stress on the bone. The bones are moved by muscles by contraction. Basically the muscles pull on the bone surface. Too much pulling or too quick a pulling may cause the surface of the bone to come off which is known as stress fracture. In the foot the stress fractures usually occur on metatarsals. Metatarsals are the bones in the centre of the foot. In the early stages rest is best but cast or crutches may be needed in advanced cases. Avulsion fracture. If there is a sudden inward turn in the foot, it usually causes an avulsion fracture. That is, the bone on the outside edge on the centre of the foot gets fractured. Ankle fractures. Almost everybody is aware of the term ankle fracture. However this is a commonly misunderstood term. An ankle may fracture due to the foot rolling or ankle twisting inwards or outwards during a fall. However the good thing about these kinds of fractures is, they heal easily. Malleoli fractures. One of the most serious fractures is malleoli fractures. Malleoli are the bony bumps on the inside and outside of the ankle. This fracture is very painful and standing and walking is almost impossible in such a condition.

3. Treatment. Treatment usually involves cast. Some fractures are treated by attaching a splinter. Compound fractures invariably require surgical treatment. Some fractures also require joining bones using steel rods. 
4. Preventive measures and food supplements. Preventive measures usually involve using proper shoes and following a balanced diet. The balanced diet is of importance as the condition of bones depends upon good diet. Calcium rich diet is very helpful in healing of fractures.
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