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Broken toes, metatarsals, and ankles

Injuries to the foot and ankle can cause severe pain, limit mobility and eventually lead to disability. Fractures are actual breaks in the bone and can vary from a tiny crack to a break resulting in multiple fragments. It is very important that fractures are immediately diagnosed and treated for the best possible outcome. Early treatment can greatly increase your chances of avoiding surgery or permanent damage. We have foot and ankle specialists with decades of experience in foot and ankle trauma.

Nearly one-fourth of all the bones in your body are in your feet, which provide you with both support and movement. 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 operative treatment.

The majority of injuries occur in either younger men  -  who often lead more physically intensive lives  -  or older women, because a large proportion suffer from the bone-thinning disease, osteoporosis.


Any break which hasn't demonstrated progressive healing for three months is classified as non-union,' says Mark Phillips, senior orthopedic consultant at King's College, London. In most cases fractures heal naturally, usually with the help of a splint or cast to keep the bone in place, over a period of weeks or months. However, in about 5% of fractures, a gap remains between the two broken ends, usually as a result of infection or damage to the blood supply to the bones. These are called non-union fractures, and in order for healing to occur, the gap needs to be filled, typically using a bone graft. A fragment of bone from another part of the body  -  usually the pelvis  -  is removed, ground down and used to fill in the gap. Without intervention, patients will be in constant pain and unable to bear weight on limbs.

The nation’s No. 1 cause of disability is arthritis, which can affect many joints in the body. There is no cure, but treatments and surgery can reduce the severity of symptoms. Osteoarthritis of the foot & ankle results from the gradual deterioration of cartilage that protect bones in the joints. Patients experience pain, inflammation, swelling, stiffness, reduced motion, and a loss of balance. Risk factors for the disease are age, obesity and family history. The foot contains 28 bones and more than 30 joints. Lower-extremity osteoarthritis occurs most often in the ankle joint, but can also occur in the joints within the hindfoot, the midfoot and the big toe. Nonsurgical treatments are pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications, shoe inserts such as pads and arch supports, custom-made shoes, braces and canes, and exercises and physical therapy. If a patient does not respond to these conservative methods, surgical means of correcting the problem are needed.

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