Foot and ankle fractures are common injuries that can occur in anyone, no matter how old you are or what your lifestyle looks like. If you experience pain in your foot while you walk, it’s possible you have an undiagnosed fracture.
Worse yet, if your foot pain has gone on for a long period of time, you might have a nonunion fracture, which means your fracture hasn’t healed properly. To ensure you regain full strength and range of motion in your foot after getting a slow-healing fracture, Thomas Rambacher, DPM FACFAS, FAPWCA, the lead podiatrist at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle in Mission Viejo, California, encourages you to seek treatment for your foot or ankle fracture as soon as possible.
Understand the different kinds of fractures that can occur in your feet and ankles and the treatment available for slow healing fractures.
Understanding foot and ankle fractures
Fractures are breaks that can occur in any bone throughout your body. You usually get a fracture after trauma, accidents, or pressure or strain to the fractured bone.
Your feet and ankles are a common area to get fractures. You have a number of small bones throughout your feet and ankles, all of which can be vulnerable to breaking.
The biggest symptom of a foot or ankle fracture is immediate and severe pain, which usually occurs after trauma in most kinds of fractures. The area might be red, swollen, bruised, and painful to put weight on.
The different kinds of fractures
When you get your foot evaluated by our doctors, they determine whether you have a fracture or a similar type of painful injury, like a ligament sprain. If you have a fracture, they’ll let you know which type of fracture you have.
Fractures can range from clean breaks, where the fracture doesn’t interfere with the alignment of your foot, to more complex fractures that shatter, break through your skin, or crack your bone. The more complicated your fracture is, the more likely it is to have difficulties healing properly, even with medical care.
What is a slow healing fracture?
Your fracture can develop into a union fracture, which means your fracture heals as expected, or a nonunion fracture, which means your fracture doesn’t respond well to treatment. You can also have a delayed union fracture that takes extra time to heal.
When you have a union fracture, your bone slowly and gradually heals after an injury. Having a union fracture doesn’t mean you don’t need treatment, but it does mean your fracture responds as expected to the course of treatment set out at Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle.
Union fractures fail to heal properly, even when prescribed a course of treatment and given high-quality medical care. This happens when the fracture isn’t stable enough and doesn’t have enough of a blood supply to heal.
Any fracture can be nonunion, but some factors make it more likely. Your risk of having a nonunion fracture goes up if your fracture was a more complicated break. Smoking or tobacco use, nutritional deficits, diabetes, certain medical conditions, and simply being older can also contribute.
Delayed union fractures
When you have a delayed union, you can expect your fracture to heal as expected with medical treatment. However, the fracture takes longer than usual to respond to treatment.
Getting your foot and ankle fracture treated
If you might have a fracture in your foot and ankle, it’s important to always see our podiatrists for treatment, even if the suspected fracture is in a small area, like your toe. Getting podiatry treatment ensures your fracture heals properly, preventing bad outcomes, like loss of mobility or incorrect alignment in your foot.
For clean break fractures, our doctors can usually heal them by putting your foot in a splint or cast. If your fracture caused more serious alignment problems, they might recommend minimally invasive or reconstructive surgery to ensure your foot gets back into place while it heals.
When you have a nonunion or union delayed union fracture, our team can help accelerate or bring healing to the fracture through nonsurgical or surgical methods. Our team draws up a treatment plan unique to the needs of your fracture and ensures you understand the treatment process before getting started.
For experienced, professional treatment of your foot or ankle fracture, schedule your appointment today with Podiatry Hotline Foot & Ankle online or over the phone.