Fixation of Toe and Forefoot Fractures, Treatment and Surgery

Fixation of toe and forefoot fractures is the correction of fractures that occurs in the toes or forefoot. Toe and forefoot fractures are breaks that occur in the small bones of your feet, and can range from less serious stress fractures to debilitating Jones fractures. About one-fourth of all of the bones in your entire body exist in your feet. These bones provide your body with vital support and movement.

There are three main parts of the foot:

  • The hindfoot consists of the heel bone and the talus, a small bone between the heel bone, or calcaneus, and the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula).The hindfoot primarily absorbs shock and displaces it forward and side to side.
  • The midfoot is comprised of the small bones between the heel and the toes. This part of the foot also displaces force to either side of the foot.
  • The forefoot consists of the toes and primarily serves the purpose of pushing the foot off of the ground to prepare for the next step.

Types of Treatment for Toe and Forefoot Fractures
Fixation of toe and forefoot fractures can include nonsurgical treatment as well as surgery. Types of treatment include:

  • Ice pack – Reduces swelling in the affected area of the foot
  • Rest – Primary treatment for stress fractures in the foot. Sometimes keeping the foot elevated and avoiding pressure on the injured foot is all it takes to heal a toe or forefoot fracture.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine – Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen, aspirin and Naproxen are great for reducing swelling and pain.
  • Changes in activity – In case the injury was caused by stressful exercise routines or activities, it is best to pinpoint the cause so you can make the right changes. Sometimes you will need to substitute an activity with a different one.
  • Alignment of the bone – For displaced fractures, or fractures in which the bone is no longer in alignment, the doctor will have to set or realign the bone. After the bone is realigned it must be kept immobile until it can fully heal. For toe fractures, the doctors will most likely “buddy-tape” the broken toe to the adjacent healthy toe to keep it from moving on its own.
  • Cast – If you have a broken bone in your forefoot, you may need to wear a cast while your bone heals to keep the forefoot bone completely immobile while it heals. Healing may take up to six to eight weeks. Crutches are recommended to help you move around.
  • Brace – This is a removable version of a cast which is also used to treat fractures in the forefoot. Braces are usually worn for less serious fractures.
  • Orthopaedic boot – Also referred to as a “walking cast,” this boot immobilizes the fractured bones while allowing you to walk around without crutches.
  • Surgery – The orthopaedic surgeon makes an incision over the area of the fracture and realigns the affected bone. After the bone is set, the surgeon inserts instrumentation such as a metal plate and screws over the bone to help keep it immobile during its healing time. The metal plate and screws are removed during a follow-up surgery at a later time when the bone is completely healed.

The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute's Foot and Ankle Services in New York performs fixation of toe and forefoot fractures as well as a broad range of nonsurgical and surgical treatments for conditions that affect the foot and ankle.

Rehabilitation Services
The Rehabilitation Network of the North Shore-LIJ Health System is dedicated to providing you and your family with result-oriented, comprehensive rehabilitation services. Our goal is to help you and your loved ones find relief from pain and get moving again after an accident, illness, injury or surgery. We’re your partner in a safe, healthy, more rapid recovery.

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