The foot contains 26 bones, and breaking even one of them could make it difficult to get around. However, to answer the question: can you walk with a broken foot, you have to examine several factors. And the most important ones are the severity of the fracture and the location of your broken bone.  

Exploring Different Types of Foot Fractures Men lying on couch with a casted foot

Whether you’re walking, running or engaging in sports play, you could sustain damage to one or more bones in your foot. But the way we classify the damage depends on the severity of the injury. 

Stress Fractures

If you have a stress fracture, that means you have a small crack in your bone, but the bone itself has not broken apart. This type of injury is typically due to overuse, and the gradual build-up of pressure on one spot in your foot. A common injury for athletes and runners, the defining symptom of this foot fracture is pain that worsens with activity and improves with rest. Now, you may be able to walk normally with a stress fracture in your foot, especially if the affected bone is on the top of the foot. However, doing so could put more pressure on the foot, ultimately worsening your injury and extending your recovery period. 

Non-Displaced Foot Fracture

If you break a bone in your foot, but the bone fragments remain aligned with each other, we say you’ve sustained a non-displaced fracture. Considered a more mild injury, typical treatment for this fracture includes immobilization via casting or walking boot, depending on the location of the broken bone. The recovery period for a non-displaced fracture is typically six to eight weeks. Prior to treatment, you may be able to walk with a broken foot if the bone fragments remain aligned. However, if you try to walk off the injury prior to seeking treatment, the bones could move out of alignment, resulting in the need for a more involved treatment plan. 

Displaced Fractures 

If the ends of your broken bone have separated from each other, your injury will be classified as a displaced fracture. As this is a more severe injury, walking on a displaced foot fracture would be very difficult, and cause severe pain. Typically, this type of injury must be treated surgically in order to bring the bone fragments back into alignment and allow for proper healing. The recovery period will depend on the exact nature of the surgical procedure needed for healing. 

Open Foot Fractures

After a traumatic injury, if pieces of bone are visible through the surface if your skin, you’ll be diagnosed with an open fracture. This injury needs emergency medical care, as we would have to realign the bone and provide care to prevent an infection in the damaged soft tissue. 

Can You Walk with a Broken Foot?

As we just reviewed, you can walk with some types of foot fractures, while walking with more severe injuries could be difficult if not impossible. However, the severity of your injury is not the only factor that will determine whether or not you’re able to walk on a broken bone. Because the location of the fracture matters, too. 

Now, if you break a toe bone or suffer a metatarsal injury, you may well be able to walk on the affected foot. But, in doing so, you could be making the problem worse. And, soon enough, walking will become more difficult, and your treatment plan is likely to be more complex, while your recovery will likely take longer than it would have if you sought immediate medical treatment. 

Treating a Broken Foot Bone Based on Location 

Whether you break a bone in your mid-foot or toe, treatment is important—it is the best way to ensure proper healing, even if you’ve heard that there’s nothing you can do for a broken toe. In reality, we can treat a broken toe in a variety of ways—sometimes, we may splint the affected digit. At other times, we may tape the broken toe to its neighbor (called buddy taping) in order to allow for proper healing. And, while it’s rare, some broken toes may need surgical repair in order to prevent deformities. 

Typically, treating a broken toe is fairly straight forward. But if you break your metatarsal bone—especially the fifth metatarsal (we call this a Jones fracture) your best treatment option may be surgery, since this area of the foot has limited blood flow. And that fact complicates the healing process, extending the recovery time. 

Now, about that recovery time—it will vary, again depending on the location and severity of your injury. But one thing won’t change: the sooner you seek treatment for any foot or ankle injury, including a foot fracture, the sooner you can begin healing. And that means we’ll be able to get you back on your feet at the earliest possible date.  

Healing a Broken Foot: How Long Does it Take?

Every person is an individual, and every body heals at a different rate. Moreover, the severity and location of injury, along with the type of treatment we provide, will determine the length of your recovery period. Still, the general guidelines for healing a foot fracture are as follows: 

•    Most foot fractures heal within six to eight weeks
•    Fractures treated with surgery can take longer to heal
•    Even after the broken bone is healed, you may still experience lingering symptoms for up to half a year after your injury  

Can You Walk with a Broken Foot: Final Thoughts

By now, you can probably tell that being able to walk after an injury doesn’t mean you haven’t broken your foot. Yet, by walking with a broken foot, you’re increasing your risk for a more severe injury. So, what can you do to protect your feet and prevent lasting complications? As soon as you notice foot pain or sustain a foot injury, call our podiatrists in Medford, Oregon, also serving patients in Southern Oregon and Northern California. When you come into the office, we can diagnose any fractures and craft a treatment plan that ensures full and proper healing. 


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