My Experience with a Broken Foot
Note: I had a broken foot. I am not a doctor. This was my experience. Discuss your concerns with your doctor. This article is NOT medical advice. It is a blog post.
Diagnosis: Clumsy! I mean, the Emergency Room report didn’t say that, but that’s what I felt like it should say. I missed the last step and fell. The diagnosis really said, Closed avulsion fracture navicular right foot.
Diagnosis: Closed avulsion fracture navicular right foot.
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Of course this x-ray was taken 10 days after I fell. I thought my ankle was very badly sprained so I had not gone to the ER right away. I was following the RICE method of treatment: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. But my foot still hurt. I went in to the Emergency room and had an x-ray. Yep, broken. I was to keep up with the RICE plan. I could do that.
Three days after the x-ray I received a surprising phone call. The trauma surgeon wanted me to be put in a cast! A cast?!? Right before Thanksgiving? Right before I had a visiting family coming for Christmas? NOOOOO!
I fussed and fumed but I got a cast. The orthopedic doctor said that a cast was the best way to treat my fracture, keep my foot immobilized and would help to keep me active later.
Broken Foot: Keep It Elevated!
This cast was very uncomfortable. My foot swelled easily and I had to keep my foot elevated (above my heart) often. Hours and hours every day. I did have good books to read and I spent extra time on my blog (which was fun.)
Even at night I kept my foot elevated on pillows under the covers. I found it difficult to get comfortable at night. I would wiggle a little this way and that way until finally I could go to sleep.
After 2 weeks, I was excited to go back. I was hopeful to get the cast off and get back to my active life. Unfortunately, there was not enough bone growth to get me out of another cast for 4 more weeks. The next cast was RED!
I needed to adjust my eating so I wouldn’t gain weight during this time. I was not going to have that to worry about as well. I really, really cut back on my eating and did not gain weight. I had to pass up a lot of good holiday food but I did sneak in a chocolate truffle here and there.
My Christmas company was extremely kind and helpful. I was on crutches when we were out and used a walker in the house. But mostly, I was sitting with my leg up. The second cast was a bit more comfortable. I had asked for some extra padding over my ankle bones. Note: In the picture above I am watching some business training by Lindsey Anderson.
Crutches are difficult to use. You are NOT supposed to lean on them under your armpits. You use your arms to keep your balance. This is difficult because you have a heavy cast on your foot that is throwing you off balance! I don’t know about you, but my arms are not very strong. My shoulders hurt and my hands hurt from the crutches. I even got callouses on my hands. Using the walker was a little easier because I could put my knee up on the seat and take some of the weight off of my wrists.
I went up and down stairs sitting down. Sometimes it was easier to crawl somewhere than to use my walker or the crutches.
Remember, you are putting extra weight on your opposite leg and hip, your wrists and shoulders, and your cast leg. It is not going to be comfortable. I took Ibuprofen regularly to keep up with the new aches and pains.
My instructions were to be completely non-weight bearing on my right foot. Easier said than done!
Broken Foot: For showers, wrap your cast in towels
For showers, I found that I needed to use a rubber band to secure a hand towel around my foot. Another hand towel was secured at the top of my cast. Then a garbage bag went around the whole thing with rubber bands at the top. Because the cast material was rough, the extra towels were necessary. The cast would cut a hole even in a thicker garbage bag. Another problem: I was worried that water would get into my cast so I felt water getting into my cast! The extra towels assured me that my cast was okay.
Broken Foot: Questions I SHOULD have asked:
- What does it really mean when you say I can do activities as tolerated?
- What pain level is considered discomfort?
- For what pain level should I call the doctor’s office?
- What am I realistically going to be able to do?
- How high should my foot be elevated?
- How much time each hour should my foot be elevated?
- How do I know if my cast is too tight?
- What does it mean if my toes are discolored?
- What does it mean if my foot feels hot/cold?
- What if I am not strong enough to use crutches?
- My hands hurt from the crutches-what should I do?
- What medications should I take for pain relief?
- Should I be taking any supplements (like calcium with D3) to encourage bone growth?
- Should I be drinking extra milk?
- Why did my bone break?
- Do I have low-density bones?
- Do I have osteoporosis?
- Was there other damage to my foot (vascular, ligaments, tendons)?
- How exactly do you transition out of a hard cast to a walking cast to walking on your foot again?
- How should I care for my skin now that it is out of the cast?
- What if my foot is discolored/very red? Should I call you?
- Do I need additional physical therapy?
- When can I drive?
- How long will it be before my foot is stable again?
- When can I resume my regular routine?
- When can I start my exercise/walking program again?
2 Weeks with a Walking Boot
Broken Foot: Physical Therapy
Another two weeks was spent slowing putting more weight on my foot. How do you start off only putting 10% of your weight down? One toe at a time?? I did the best I could to transition weight back onto my foot slowly.
I was not assigned to go to physical therapy but I was supposed to practice writing the alphabet in the air with my toes. The physician’s assistant said that those motions would provide the exercises that I needed. I think I could have used some additional physical therapy. My foot is still very stiff.
Two months and a pandemic later: I ended up doing my own physical therapy: playing with the grandkids helps your foot and leg move in all kinds of directions. I don’t know why, but it has taken me a LONG time to heal and get so my ankle does not hurt. Like 5 months after the cast was off long. And sometimes it still hurts, especially walking down stairs. I hope this is not the case for you but don’t be discouraged if it is. It is getting better – just slowly.
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