June 27, 2022

Got Fractures? Here are Signs to Watch Out For

Written by: Omnia Tantawi, MSc

Whether it's due to a nasty fall, stumbling on an object, a car accident, or direct impact — it's always a better choice to have it checked out by a doctor.

Failure to seek immediate care after a bone fracture puts you at risk for a lower quality of life or even permanent disability as time goes by.

With reports from the World Health Organization about the increasing incidence of bone fractures and other scientific evidence that links fractures and the risk of developing Osteoporosis, we felt the need to raise awareness about fractures, the Do's and Don'ts, and when to feel worried?

 

Signs You Have a Fracture

Seeing that foot fractures can present themselves with very common signs and symptoms of unhealthy habits like wearing tight shoes or standing all day or other health conditions, they can often be overlooked by a patient or misdiagnosed by a doctor.

This is so true that foot fractures are considered one of the most common fractures out there.1

Each patient's signs and symptoms of foot fractures differ according to the severity of the case and underlying medical conditions. However, all cases are mostly presented with:1,2

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Trouble with movement
  • Inability to keep balance
  • Tenderness of the affected area

 

Is it normal to get cold feet after a fracture?

While it could happen, it's definitely not normal, nor should you tolerate it. If you feel that your foot is cold after a fracture, this can result from poor circulation, nerve damage, or worse. 

Thus, it's very important to seek immediate care if you feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Numbness
  • Cold sensation
  • Sight of bone
  • Foot looks blue
  • Area of fracture is infected
  • Wound or blood near the injured bone

Then your healthcare provider can do the appropriate diagnostic tests and guide you toward the best treatment plan.

 

How Long Does a Foot Fracture Take to Heal?

This all depends on the severity and site of the fracture and if there's an underlying medical condition that the patient has. Generally, and under normal circumstances, it takes around 6-8 weeks for a fracture to heal.

This is because for a fracture to heal, it needs to go through the following 4 steps:3

 

    • Hematoma formation

      From 1 to 5 days, this happens on the spot right after a fracture; a hematoma is when blood vessels rupture and inflammatory proteins are instigated and recruit immune cells to start and remove dead cells and tissues to prepare for healing.
       
    • Fibrocartilaginous formation

      From Day 5 to Day 11, growth factors that are required to rebuild blood vessels and stimulate the growth of cells to develop bones are activated and start working.
    • Bony Callus Formation

      From Day 11 to Day 28, the calcification process happens, and immature bones start to form with a new network of blood vessels that provides a nutritious environment.
    • Bone remodeling

      Starting from Day 18 and moving forward to months or up to a year, this stage is where regeneration of normal bones occurs; this could last from a few weeks to several months.

     

    Signs Your Fracture is Healing

    During your recovery, there will be signs that will reassure you that the process of healing is going smoothly, these are:

    • All the pain you're feeling will be less and less every day
    • Your swelling will go down
    • Your movement capacity will improve
    • Your bruising will recede
    • Your X-rays will look a lot better

     

    Factors that Can Affect Fracture Healing

    Many factors can affect the bone healing process negatively, and these are:

    • Fracture features (this can include: the site of the fracture, the extent of damage, type of tissue affected, how the fracture was initially handled, etc.,).
    • Whether an infection has occurred or not (infection can make matters worse and lead to poor or delayed healing).
    • Reduced blood supply (the lower the blood supply, the lower the chances of quick healing. A low blood supply can also lead to feeling cold or blue in the foot which is usually a signal that something is very wrong).
    • Patients' underlying medical and physical conditions like (Old age, obesity, anaemia, malnutrition, smoking, diabetes, menopause, etc.,)

     

    Best Practices for Fracture Healing

    To manage your symptoms and enjoy a quick recovery, we recommend the following actions to take if you've recently had a fracture:

    • Seek your doctor's advice and get tested (through image testing) to see the extent of your injury.
    • Improve your diet to contain nutrients that can significantly help with the healing process like Vitamin C, D, proteins, and Calcium.
    • Try to rest your feet as much as possible and never put weight on them.
    • Consult your doctor for any appropriate medication or nutritious supplements that you can take.

     

    To Sum Up

    At the beginning and throughout this article, we were very keen on highlighting the importance of seeking immediate care after a fracture, especially when feeling a cold sensation. This is mainly because there is real-world evidence that proves that in the event of ignoring a fracture it can lead to a significant decrease in quality of life and sometimes permanent disability.

    Fractures of the foot are often disregarded as they may be perceived as less important, however, they should be approached with due diligence and care to avoid any unwanted complications that can't be undone later.

    Following the advice of your doctor post-fracture and implementing healthy lifestyle choices and rich nutrition can go a long way in your recovery.47

     

    References

    1. Diagnosis and Management of Common Foot Fractures - American Family Physician [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 22]. Available from: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0201/p183.html
    2. Foot Fractures - Injuries and Poisoning - MSD Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 22]. Available from: https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/injuries-and-poisoning/fractures/foot-fractures
    3. Fracture Healing Overview - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf [Internet]. [cited 2022 May 22]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551678/
    4. Wu AM, Bisignano C, James SL, Abady GG, Abedi A, Abu-Gharbieh E, et al. Global, regional, and national burden of bone fractures in 204 countries and territories, 1990–2019: a systematic analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. The Lancet Healthy Longevity [Internet]. 2021 Sep 1 [cited 2022 May 22];2(9):e580–92. Available from: http://www.thelancet.com/article/S2666756821001720/fulltext
    5. Cui Y, Cai H, Zheng W, Shu XO. Associations of Dietary Intakes of Calcium, Magnesium, and Soy Isoflavones With Bone Fracture Risk in Men: A Prospective Study. JBMR Plus [Internet]. 2022 Feb 1 [cited 2022 May 22];6(2):e10563. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/35229059
    6. Melton LJ, Thamer M, Ray NF, Chan JK, Chesnut CH, Einhorn TA, et al. Fractures attributable to osteoporosis: Report from the national osteoporosis foundation. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 1997;12(1):16–23. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9240721/
    7. Warriner AH, Patkar NM, Curtis JR, Delzell E, Gary L, Kilgore M, et al. Which fractures are most attributable to osteoporosis? J Clin Epidemiol [Internet]. 2011 Jan [cited 2022 May 22];64(1):46–53. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21130353/
Article written by Omnia Tantawi, MSc
Omnia is an Assistant Lecturer and Medical Researcher from Egypt. She’s an integral part in many research projects that proved promising in revolutionizing the future of Medicine. As a Research Scholar, she’s particularly interested in Personalized & Molecular Medicine because she believes that this is the prospect of the healthcare industry and can be applied to all medical and pharmaceutical specializations. But at heart she remains a wordsmith, so she currently works as a Medical Writer. This transition was fairly easy with an Academic Medical background, ability to adapt to different audiences and passion for research and creation. She always takes the most complex or mundane topics and turn it into a must-read with an unparalleled style. In her free time, she likes to read books, tunes in Netflix or enjoys the outdoors.

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