What Your Doctor Does With His Broken Foot

For 3 years now, I have been playing soccer in a Highland Co-ed Adult league during the summer. The league is designed to help people learn the game of soccer, but also to have lightly competitive games in this great sport. One Saturday (7 August), I was playing in this game and broke my foot.

While playing defense (which I usually do), I take it personally when a goal is scored. I had been beat 3 times by this player and decided I wouldn't let it happen again. As he moved with the ball, I reached and took control of the ball with the right foot, while planting the left. Soccer fields in Utah are notorious for being uneven and I twisted my foot under (the typical mechanism of an ankle sprain). It hurt, but I rarely ever truly sprain my ankle. I distributed the ball and then hobbled back to my position on the field. This hurt much more than usual and I was unable to run as completely for the last 10 minutes of the game. (Special note: If you hurt your ankle or foot, it is not recommended that you run through the pain as this can make any injury worse.)

As I went home after the game, here is the process I underwent in treating my injury:

- Limiting activities initially: Walking caused increased pain, so I wanted to protect it for several hours and see how it recovered.

- Ice to area: Ice is designed to reduce swelling and can often decrease pain significantly. This is a key part of treating any injury.

- Heat to area: Although ice was helping, it was insufficient to decrease the pain. Heat (as opposed to ice) increases the blood flow to the area and can help remove "junk" that the body has after an injury. Alternating hot and cold is usually a great idea, but cold should be final or the foot will swell significantly.

- Compressive Wrap: Placing an elastic or ace wrap to the foot and ankle helped support it and decrease the pain. RICE is the best acronym (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).

- Vibration: On a soccer field, a football field or by a track, it is easy to test an injury for bone involvement by using a tuning fork and testing the injured area. When a bone is broken, it usually will hurt more with vibration. In my case, however, it didn't hurt to vibrate.

- X-ray: With the above treatments, and the addition of ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory, often the pain improves. Since mine was getting worse over time, I knew it was time for an X-ray. Through taking my own x-ray, I was able to diagnose a broken bone in the foot.

- Protection in a Cast Boot: There are multiple options for treating a broken foot, from a ankle brace to a post-op shoe to a cast or boot. I chose the boot as it provides the protection of a cast but the ease of showering without keeping the foot dry (Besides, it is hard to cast your own foot.) The boot, however, is to be utilized as a cast, except removal for showers (ie. I am sleeping in the boot too.)

Other things that can be done include pain medications, but I wanted to see the progress of the healing and didn't want to interfere with the sensations. This is for my learning (and the pain hasn't been that bad).

So if you break your fifth metatarsal, you should likewise undergo many of these treatments and may even need treatments by a foot and ankle specialist.