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Injuries to the feet include strains, sprains, fractures and dislocations. The foot contains nearly one quarter of all the bones in the human body and fractures are common in workplace accidents, car accidents, slips, trips and falls. Some injuries are extremely serious and can cause long-term difficulties with walking and movement and will give rise to very substantial foot injury compensation claim settlements. There are numerous variations and combinations of fractures that cause difficulties however the most serious and most common injuries include fracture of the talus, fracture of the heel-bone, mid-foot injuries and toe/forefoot injuries :-
Fracture of the Talus
The talus is a small bone that sits between the heel bone (calcaneus) and the two bones of the lower leg (tibia and fibula). The talus is an important connector between the foot and the leg and body, helping to transfer weight and pressure forces across the ankle joint. Most talus fractures are marked by :-
X-rays will usually show a fracture. In some cases, the X-ray will not show the fractures, so a computed tomography (CT) scan may be needed. They also will show whether the bones are still aligned (non-displaced fracture) or have shifted out of place (displaced fracture).
Fracture of the Heel
Heel bones often break in a motor vehicle accident or a fall from a height. This injury in particular can be disabling, restricting movement and walking thereby requiring a change of employment to a sedentary job. This injury often gives rise to a substantial foot injury compensation claim settlement provided that the third party involved can be shown to have acted negligently. Signs and symptoms include :-
Lisfranc (Mid-foot) Fracture
Common accidents such as dropping a heavy item on your foot or stepping in a small hole, falling or twisting can result in a Lisfranc fracture - dislocation of the mid-foot where a cluster of small bones forms an arch between the ankle and the second metatarsal.
Toe and Forefoot Fractures
A broken (fractured) bone in your forefoot (metatarsals) or in one of your toes (phalanges) is often painful but rarely disabling. Most of the time, these injuries heal without the requirement of surgery.
The foot is relatively protected from major injury because it is encased in the body of the foot. Nevertheless, fractures of the foot and foot pain are very common injuries because the foot is vulnerable to crush injuries, slipping injuries and twisting injuries. Because we walk on our feet all the time, they can be subject to overuse injuries, such as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a pain on the bottom of the foot on the base of the calcaneus, where the calcaneus attaches to the planter fascia, the connective tissue band that is located across the bottom of the foot.
As mentioned, fractures of the foot are common and about one in every ten broken bones happens in the foot. There are twenty six bones in the foot and almost any of them can be fractured. The back of the foot and the ankle are defined by the talus and the calcaneus, which allow the ankle to flex and extend at the ankle. They can be fracture in injuries that damage the ankle. There are five small bones that make up the mid-foot region, called the navicular bone, the cuboid bone and three cuneiform bones. The forefoot is made up of the metatarsals, which are prone to fracture because of their long nature and their location. There is one metatarsal for every toe and each toe contains two to three phalanges. The phalanges are also prone to injury because they are the most distal of bones and can easily be struck by another object.
The foot can be injured by crushing the foot, bumping the foot against something or walking too long on the foot. Toes are broken when you strike a hard object. Heels can be broken if you fall from a long height and land on your feet. Twisting the foot or ankle can fracture the foot or sprain the ligaments within the foot. Plantar fasciitis is caused by walking too much or standing too much using the wrong shoes. There is direct pain on the bottom of the foot that is worse when you first start walking and gets better as you walk.
Fractures of the foot are usually sudden but you can have stress fractures of the foot that occur over time. Stress fractures are more common in soldiers hiking in hiking boots and in ballerinas or other types of athletes. Gymnasts are especially prone to stress fractures of the foot.
Children get broken bones in the foot more common than adults. In adults, however, the bones are stronger than the ligaments and it is the ligaments that give and get damaged. A sprain in an adult foot is more likely to be a fracture in a childs foot. The foot of the child is very flexible, however, and this somewhat protects the foot from injury. It is difficult to find a metatarsal or phalanx fracture of the child because their bones are full of growth plates which mimic areas of fracture.
Symptoms of foot injury are bruising, pain and swelling of the affected area. Often, it is difficult to walk unless all you have is a broken toe. Bruising is common and is treated with ice and local heat after forty eight hours. Swelling can interfere with the ability of the person to wear socks or shoes.
The diagnosis of a foot injury depends on a complete history of the injury or pain, and a physical examination of the feet. If both feet are affected, such as in plantar fasciitis, there will be tenderness of the foot on both sides X-rays can be done to show bony injury and an MRI exam of the foot will show any ligamentous or muscle injury to the foot. Plantar fasciitis can show up on plain films of the foot.
The treatment of the foot injuries includes rest, ice, elevation and compression. You can use an Ace bandage to protect the foot and control pain. You don't really need to treat phalanx fractures of the toes because they aren't connected to other major bones and tend to heal well on their own. In rare cases, surgery is done to put dislocated bones back together and a cast is applied. Crutches and non-weight bearing are necessary to allow the foot to heal. For plantar fasciitis, using a shoe insert can help immensely as can nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.LAWYER HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 339 958
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here