Posted on: 2 February 2015
The human foot consists of 26 small bones—one quarter of the bones in the human body. If you experience severe foot pain you might be wondering if you have broken one of these small bones. Here is how to tell if it's a broken bone or a soft issue injury.
Was there a distinct injury?
The majority of heel injuries occur from jumping from a height, and mid-foot injuries and toe injuries often occur after a kick or a fall. Falls from motor bikes, scooters and bicycles can also result in breaks, which is why supportive shoes (not thongs or slip-ons) should always been worn when riding one of these vehicles.
Soft tissue injuries can also occur from injuries, but more often result from strains over time, leading to a gradually worsening injury.
Is the foot a different shape?
If there are any protrusions, even if no bone is visible, this can indicate a possible break. In the cases of any injury, the immediate treatment is RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. After the initial RICE treatment a soft tissue injury will show reduced swelling but a broken bone is likely to remain swollen.
How much pain are you in?
Bone pain tends to be more extreme than the pain from a soft tissue injury. If you can still walk on your foot but it's uncomfortable, then you are more likely to have a soft tissue injury. If you are limping severely and the pain does not seem to be improving after rest, you may have a bone injury. In children the perception of pain can be lower, so it's important to note any ongoing limps or changes to walking patterns, which may be a sign of a child compensating for an injury.
If you are unsure of whether you have a broken bone, then you should go to a podiatrist like Dapto Podiatry Clinic and get referred for an X-ray. The treatment for a soft tissue injury and a broken bone is often the same, with rest, pain management and the use of pain relief through medication and cold packs. In the case of some severe breakage, you may need surgery to fix the bone in place, and will spend some time on crutches.
In both cases, it is sensible to get some followup therapy once the injury has healed, in order to strengthen and support the ankle and foot to prevent future injuries. A podiatrist can recommend appropriate shoes, exercises and orthopaedic supports to have you back in action.Share