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Broken Foot (cont.)

How is a broken foot diagnosed?

The doctor will ask the patient about the injury and examine the foot. X-rays are often useful in diagnosing broken bones in the foot.

Injured toes usually are treated in the same way whether they are broken or just bruised, so X-rays are optional for these injuries.

Sometimes a doctor's examination is all that is needed to be certain bones in the midfoot are not broken. Doctors use certain guidelines to decide if an X-ray is needed. If none of the following are present, an X-ray is not required:

  • Pain when the doctor pushes over the base of the fifth metatarsal bone (outside edge of the foot)
  • Pain when the doctor pushes over the navicular bone
  • Inability to take four steps with full weight bearing on the injured foot without pain, both immediately after injury and at the time of the examination

Other imaging methods (such as a bone scan, CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound) can be performed to look for unusual or hidden injuries to the bones of the foot, but are rarely needed. These tests generally are not obtained while in the emergency department and usually are ordered only after consultation with a foot surgeon or orthopedist.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/10/2015

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Fracture, Foot »

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