Your body consists of various systems that make you, well, you! No matter what you are doing, you have an array of these body systems to support and enable it to happen. One of the systems responsible for providing your physical structure is the skeletal system (which works in conjunction with your muscular system).
There is a total of 206 bones in your body, and slightly more than one-quarter of them are found in your feet and ankles. The high quantity of bones provides many opportunities for foot and ankle fractures. Various physical activities can also contribute to the risk of broken bones. Accordingly, there are various types of bone fractures you might possibly sustain at some point or other in your life.
If you do break any of your foot or ankle bones, remember that we are here to help at Advanced Foot and Ankle.
Understanding Foot and Ankle Fractures
Bones are reasonably strong and they do a remarkable job of withstanding the physical forces we place upon them, but they are not infallible. Lower limb fractures happen as the result of forces, either in a single traumatic event (which is an acute injury), or in response to an accumulation of force over time (which is a chronic injury). There are several different types of bone fractures, including:
- Comminuted fracture. Sometimes bones break into two pieces, but a comminuted fracture is a matter of bone shattering into three or more pieces.
- Open, compound fracture. This is a dangerous fracture, as the skin has been pierced by a broken bone and this exposes internal tissues to the possibility of contamination and infection. If you sustain this type of broken bone, seek immediate medical care.
- Stable fracture. Otherwise known as a simple fracture, this can be considered an ideal break, one wherein the broken ends line up correctly and will heal in a normal fashion. It is important, though, to immobilize the affected area so a shift does not occur to either end.
- Stress fracture. In this type of fracture, the affected bone develops a hairline, surface-level crack over time and in response to repetitive physical forces. When bone tissue is not given enough time to replenish damaged tissue between bouts of high-impact physical activities (running, jumping), there is a high risk of stress fractures.
Bone Fracture Treatment
The body has remarkable abilities for repairing broken tissues, including bones. In this instance, the repair takes place in three stages:
1. Inflammation – This stage starts as soon as the fracture has been sustained and is necessary for providing a supply of blood to the injured area. The initial framework for the ultimate healing emerges as the blood begins to clot.
2. Bone production – The second stage is where the clotted blood is replaced by fibrous tissues and cartilage, which are, in turn, replaced over time by solid bone tissue.
3. Bone remodeling – In this final stage, the bone tissue really develops. It becomes dense and compact, and normal circulation is restored.
Various factors dictate exactly how long the entire healing process will take. Generally, though, it takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks for a broken bone to heal to a significant degree. Children’s bones will often heal quicker than adult bones do.
Treatment for a broken bone depends, naturally, on the kind of fracture sustained and the severity of the injury. In the case of a simple, stable fracture, our goal is to immobilize the area and allow the broken bone to heal in a normal manner. Options for keeping the affected bone(s) in place include buddy-taping, bracing, and casting. A second goal we have for treatment is to relieve any painful symptoms. Medication and icing are two common components of fracture care.
In some cases, surgery is necessary. This typically entails using plates and screws to hold broken pieces in place while the body mends the damaged bone. Depending on the procedure, we may need to reopen the incision later to remove the plates or screws.
For more information on ankle and foot fractures, or to request an appointment for treatment, contact Advanced Foot and Ankle by calling our Twin Falls, ID office at (208) 731-6321 or our Burley office at (208)-312-4646.