Many foot fractures will resolve on their own without surgical intervention, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to proactively treat and protect the fracture site. If you keep trying to go about your day like normal on the assumption that the bones will eventually heal on their own, you may be setting yourself up for a number of problems down the road. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at five foot issues that can develop if you don’t proactively treat your foot fracture.
When Foot Fractures Go Untreated
We understand that you don’t want to be slowed down by a foot fracture, but at the same time, trying to act like nothing happened can lead to worsening or prolonged problems. Here is what can happen if you try to push through the discomfort of a foot fracture or you ignore the recommendations of your treating physician.
- Delayed Healing – Perhaps the most common problem associated with not proactively treating your foot fracture is delayed or inhibited healing. Your foot is in a weakened state following a fracture, and if you keep stressing it like you normally would, these structures are going to struggle to be able to focus on the healing that needs to be done because they are always reacting to additional trauma. We understand that you don’t want to be slowed by a foot fracture, but ignoring the problem will only ensure that the fracture slows you for a longer period of time!
- Advanced Arthritis – While degenerative arthritis is the most common cause of joint breakdown, arthritis can also be spurred by trauma or injury. If an injury never fully heals, it can impact how stress is displaced on that structure for the foreseeable future, expediting the arthritis process. It is not uncommon for untreated foot and ankle fractures or injuries to lead to faster arthritis progression.
- Balance Issues – Balance and coordination issues can also arise following a foot fracture, and they can remain if you never work to help the bone and the supportive soft tissues heal from this trauma. This can lead to major issues for older adults who may already be at risk for a potentially harmful fall. If the rest of your foot is trying to pick up the slack caused by the weakened area after an injury, it can affect your ability to remain upright and balanced on your feet.
- Joint Deformity – If the fracture changes how stress is dispersed on your foot, and you never work to help the bone heal, it can lead to a foot misalignment caused by a bone malunion. This may require surgery to address, especially if the deformity is leading to discomfort with every step.
- Nerve Damage – You may be surprised to learn that there are more than 7,000 nerve endings in each of your feet, and an untreated foot fracture can lead to permanent damage to any of these nerves. Nerve damage can lead to a host of uncomfortable symptoms, including decreased sensitivity, a tingling sensation or loss of proprioception, all of which can make walking or running a lot more difficult. Don’t be left with permanent nerve damage because you ignored a foot fracture.
So while many foot fractures will eventually heal without surgery, it’s still important to have your fracture diagnosed and an individual treatment plan cultivated by a foot specialist like Dr. McDonald. There are a number of conservative techniques like rest, icing, compression, elevation, physical therapy and stretching techniques that can actively help your fracture heal and prevent the above issues from developing.
If you need help treating a foot fracture or figuring out why your feet are hurting, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.