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A foot injury may feel like a broken bone but it may just be a bad bruise. In this video, orthopedic surgeon Anjan Shah, MD, of Brandon Regional Hospital, explains when to seek medical attention if you hurt your foot.
You'll need an foot x-ray to tell for sure whether you've broken or fractured a bone in your foot, but to complicate matters, bones break in many different ways, and subtle damage, such as a hairline fracture, can be difficult to detect. It can take two weeks for evidence of the body's attempt to heal a bone fracture to show up as an abnormality on an x-ray. So it's important to pay attention to symptoms.
One warning sign of a fracture is difficulty in walking after an injury. Don't be fooled, however. It's sometimes possible to walk on a broken foot, so check to see whether you have any pain or tenderness directly over the bone when you touch it lightly. Such focal pain may indicate a fracture, especially if it persists after you've rested briefly and followed the RICE regimen (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Your best bet, if you have any doubts, is to get an x-ray, which may reveal whether you've broken a bone and, if so, whether it needs to be realigned. If an initial x-ray does not reveal a fracture, but the pain persists for more than 10 to 14 days, ask for a follow-up x-ray immediately to make sure your foot is not broken.
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