Toe and forefoot fracture treatment
Toe and forefoot fractures are breaks in the small bones of your feet that can range from less serious stress fractures to debilitating Jones fractures. Fixation of toe and forefoot fractures is the surgical correction of these breaks.
There are three main parts of the foot:
- The hindfoot consists of the heel bone and the talus, a small bone between the heel bone, or calcaneus, and the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula).The hindfoot primarily absorbs shock and displaces it forward and side to side.
- The midfoot is comprised of the small bones between the heel and the toes. This part of the foot also displaces force to either side of the foot.
- The forefoot consists of the toes and primarily serves the purpose of pushing the foot off the ground to prepare for the next step.
Fixation of toe and forefoot fractures can include nonsurgical treatment as well as surgery. Types of treatment include:
- Ice pack – Reduces swelling in the affected area.
- Rest – Primary treatment for stress fractures. Sometimes keeping the foot elevated and avoiding pressure on the injured foot is all it takes to heal a toe or forefoot fracture.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine – Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen are great for reducing swelling and pain.
- Changes in activity – In case the injury was caused by stressful exercise routines or activities, it is best to pinpoint the cause so you can make the right changes. You may need to substitute one activity for a different one.
- Alignment of the bone – For displaced fractures, or fractures in which the bone is no longer in alignment, it will require realignment. After the bone is realigned it must be kept immobile until it can fully heal. For toe fractures, the doctor will most likely “buddy-tape” the broken toe to the adjacent healthy toe to keep it from moving on its own.
- Cast – If you have a broken bone in your forefoot, you may need to wear a cast to keep the forefoot bone completely immobile while it heals. Healing may take up to six to eight weeks. Crutches are recommended to help you move around.
- Brace – This is a removable cast used to treat fractures in the forefoot. Braces are usually worn for less serious fractures.
- Orthopaedic boot – Also referred to as a “walking cast,” this boot immobilizes the fractured bones while allowing you to walk around without crutches.
During the surgical fixation procedure, the orthopaedic surgeon makes an incision over the area of the fracture and realigns the affected bone. After the bone is set, the surgeon inserts instrumentation such as a metal plate and screws over the bone to help keep it immobile during its healing time. The metal plate and screws are removed during a follow-up surgery after the bone is completely healed.
The multidisciplinary team of foot and ankle experts at Northwell Health Orthopaedic Institute performs fixation of toe and forefoot fractures as well as a broad range of nonsurgical and surgical treatments for conditions that affect the foot and ankle.