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How to Tell if Your Foot Is Fractured

The bones in your foot can be completely or partially fractured in a number of ways, ranging from tiny cracks to full breaks that pop through your skin. Time to head straight to the ER, right? Not necessarily. Depending on the type of foot fracture you have, you might be able to avoid the long wait and extra cost of the ER by visiting urgent care instead.

Keep reading to learn what causes foot fractures, what a foot fracture feels like, key differences between fractures and sprains, if you can still walk on a fractured foot, and more.

Common causes of foot fractures

The most common cause of foot fractures is a direct injury or trauma to your foot, such as:

  • A sports injury
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • Tripping, stumbling, or falling
  • Dropping something heavy on your foot
  • Kicking something too hard

If you walk, run, or exercise but don’t rest your feet enough or wear proper shoes, you could end up with stress fractures – tiny cracks in your bones that get bigger over time. Stress fractures are especially common in people who participate in high-impact sports like football and basketball.

Other types of foot fractures include:

  • Toe fractures
  • Ankle fractures
  • Metatarsal bone fractures (located in the middle of your foot)
  • Sesamoid bone fractures (two small bones at the end of your big toe)

Who is most at risk for foot fractures?

Children and the elderly are more susceptible to all types of broken bones – kids because they are more active, and older adults because their bone density decreases with age. But foot fractures can and do happen to anyone.

What does a fractured foot feel like?

Some foot fractures are blatantly obvious, while others are more hidden. You may have a broken bone in your foot if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Throbbing pain
  • Pain that gets worse with activity and better during rest
  • Bruising, swelling, or tenderness
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty bearing weight
  • Inability to move your foot
  • Changes in the shape of your foot

Can you still walk on a fractured foot?

It is possible to walk on some fractures, so don’t assume you’re in the clear just because you can put weight on your injured foot. Walking or even standing on a broken foot for too long can prevent your foot from healing properly.

Key differences between foot fractures and ankle sprains

Sometimes, foot injuries that are bruised and swollen and leave you unable to walk aren’t fractures at all – instead, they end up being foot or ankle sprains.

Fractures and sprains have a lot of the same symptoms, which can make it difficult to diagnose your injury on your own. However, there are a few key differences to consider.

A fracture is a break in your bone, while a sprain is a soft tissue injury. Sprains happen when your ligaments (the connective tissue that attaches bone to bone) stretch too far and/or tear, often after rolling your foot or ankle, twisting or changing direction too quickly, or during a fall. You may hear or feel a popping sensation when the sprain occurs.

Again, seeking medical treatment is the best way to confirm if you have a fracture or sprain.

How long does a foot fracture take to heal?

A broken foot typically takes 4-6 weeks to heal fully, but some fractures take 10-12 weeks or longer. It all depends on which bone is broken and the severity of the fracture.

This timeline can also change if you don’t have your fracture evaluated right away. Without prompt treatment, you run the risk of the bone not healing correctly or in proper alignment – a condition that causes persistent pain and can impact your ability to walk indefinitely.

During recovery, you likely won’t be able to put weight on your foot. If so, you’ll need to use crutches, a walker, a scooter, or a wheelchair to allow the broken bone to heal fully. Some foot fractures also require a splint, a cast, or even surgery. Ask your vybe clinician for more information.

Can you go to urgent care for a broken foot?

Yes! Urgent care centers can diagnose and treat minor fractures and provide you with the necessary equipment for recovery. Urgent care centers like vybe can also diagnose and treat other injuries like sprains, strains, dislocations, and more.

If your clinician determines that you need an X-ray, all vybe locations have digital X-ray machines on site as well.

Many people don’t realize that urgent care clinics are an option if you break a bone. But if your fracture isn’t severe or in a compromising location, there’s no need to foot the bill at the emergency room.

However, you should visit the nearest emergency room for treatment if:

  • You are unable to move your foot without severe pain
  • Your foot is deformed or misshapen
  • The bone is sticking through your skin
  • You are bleeding heavily

Visit vybe for broken bones, sprains, and more

Before you head outdoors, play sports, or begin your next workout, remember that vybe is here if you get swept off your feet (literally). Walk in anytime or schedule an appointment to have your foot injury diagnosed and treated by people who care.

All vybe locations are open seven days a week with extended weekday evening hours to serve you. Visit us today!