Nearly one-fourth of all the bones in your body are in your feet. A broken (fractured) bone in your forefoot or in one of your toes is often painful but rarely disabling. Most of the time, these injuries heal without operative treatment. Types of fractures include stress fractures and general bone fractures.
Stress fractures frequently occur in the bones of the forefoot extending from your toes to the middle of your foot. Stress fractures are like tiny cracks in the bone surface. They can occur with sudden increases in training (such as running or walking for longer distances or durations), improper training techniques or changes in training surfaces.
Most other types of fractures extend through the bone. They may be stable, in which there is no shift in bone alignment, or displaced, in which the bone ends no longer line up properly. These fractures usually result from trauma, such as dropping a heavy object on your foot, or from a twisting injury. If the fractured bone does not break through the skin, it is called a closed fracture. Several types of fractures occur to the forefoot bone on the side of the little toe (fifth metatarsal).
An ankle-twisting injury may tear the tendon that attaches to this bone and pull a small piece of the bone away. A more serious injury in the same area is a Jones fracture, which occurs near the base of the bone and disrupts the blood supply to the bone. This injury may take longer to heal or require surgery. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising.
Treatment for fractures range from strapping of toes to surgery (for the most extreme cases). Most fractures require some form of immobilization, such as a soft or a hard cast.