Broken Foot

You have a broken bone (fracture) in your foot. This will cause pain, swelling, and often bruising. It will usually take about 4 to 8 weeks to heal. A foot fracture may be treated with a special shoe, splint, cast, or boot.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for yourself at home:

  • You may be given a splint, cast, shoe, or boot to keep the injured area from moving. Unless you were told otherwise, use crutches or a walker. Don’t put weight on the injured foot until your healthcare provider says you can do so. (You can rent crutches and a walker at many drugstores and surgical or orthopedic supply stores.) Don’t put weight on a splint, or it may break.

  • Keep your leg elevated to reduce pain and swelling. When sleeping, put a pillow under the injured leg. When sitting, support the injured leg so it's above your heart. This is very important during the first 2 days (48 hours).

  • Put an ice pack on the injured area. Do this for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day for pain relief. You can make an ice pack by wrapping a plastic bag of ice cubes in a thin towel. As the ice melts, be careful that the splint, cast, boot, or shoe doesn’t get wet. You can place the ice pack directly over the splint or cast. Unless told otherwise, you can open the boot or shoe to apply the ice pack. Continue using the ice pack 3 to 4 times a day for the next 2 days. Then use the ice pack as needed to ease pain and swelling.

  • Keep the splint, cast, boot, or shoe dry. When bathing, protect it with a large plastic bag, rubber-banded at the top end. If a fiberglass splint or cast or boot gets wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer. Unless told otherwise, you can take off the boot or shoe to bathe.

  • You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Also talk with your provider if you’ve had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • Don’t put creams or objects under the cast if you have itching.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. This is to make sure the bone is healing the way it should. If you were given a splint, it may be changed to a cast or boot at your follow-up visit.

X-rays may be taken. You will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • The cast or splint cracks

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes wet or soft

  • The fiberglass cast or splint stays wet for more than 24 hours

  • Bad odor from the cast or wound fluid stains the cast

  • Tightness or pain under the cast or splint gets worse

  • Toes become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • You can’t move your toes

  • Skin around cast or splint becomes red or swollen

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Chills

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