What Is a Midfoot Fracture? And What Should I Do About Them?
Toe bone connected to the foot bone Foot bone connected to the heel bone Heel bone connected to the ankle bone … “Dem Bones” might be a classic children’s song, but clearly the songwriter took some liberties with the anatomy! In fact, feet are highly complex structures with 26 bones each. (For those of you counting at home, the folk tune only mentions three of them—and we’re not really sure what “foot bone” is supposed to mean.) When we take a closer look at the bones of the feet, doctors often separate them into three different regional categories—hindfoot, midfoot, and forefoot. And of those three regions, the midfoot is the one that most everyday people know the least about. Unfortunately, it’s also a region that can develop frustrating, painful injuries and fractures if you aren’t careful—and sometimes even when you are. This blog will be taking a closer look at midfoot fractures, but before we begin, let’s do a quick anatomy lesson.
A Quick Anatomy Lesson: What Is the Midfoot and Why Is It Important?Let’s go back to those three regions of the foot.
- The hindfoot includes just two bones—the calcaneus and talus. Your calcaneus is your heel bone. The talus, commonly known as the “ankle bone,” sits just above it. Pretty straightforward.
- The forefoot refers to the area around the ball of the foot and the toes. That means your phalanges (the toes themselves) and five long metatarsal bones that connect with the base of each toe.
What Is a Midfoot Fracture?While the bones of the midfoot aren’t exactly the easiest-to-injure part of your body, serious fractures of the midfoot complex aren’t that rare either—and when they do occur, they can put you in serious pain. Most midfoot fractures result from a single traumatic impact that twists the middle part of the foot—car accident, falling off a ladder or down the stairs, contact sports, etc. However, it doesn’t have to be a huge collision. A low-energy tumble from stepping on an uneven surface could just as easily be responsible. Often several different injuries occur at once. Often the ligaments along the top of the foot above the midfoot bones will be sprained and torn. Individual bones may be dislocated as well as broken. Cartilage within the joint complex is usually damaged as well. Although there may be a clean crack through one or more midfoot bones, many midfoot fractures are classified as avulsion fractures, meaning a small piece of bone breaks off and gets pulled away from the rest of the bone. Midfoot fractures can vary significantly in severity. Common symptoms include:
- Swelling and pain, particularly along the top of the foot above the arch
- Bruising and/or blistering on both the top and bottom of the arch
- More serious midfoot fractures may make bearing weight extremely painful, if not impossible