The term 'Tarsal fracture' is often taken to mean a broken foot in general. It does, however, specifically refer to the rare occurrence when one of the Tarsal bones at the rear of the foot is fractured. These bones are very rarely fractured individually but may occur after a hard impact or repetitive forces. This foot injury can be a traumatic or a stress (hairline) fracture.
Tarsal fracture symptoms
Symptoms of a tarsal fracture include sudden pain from a force or impact and difficulty bearing weight. The normal function of the foot will be lost and there will be tenderness over a specific area depending on which bone is broken. A possible deformity in traumatic fractures may also be seen.
A more gradual onset of pain which is worse during weight-bearing is likely to be from a stress fracture.
What are the Tarsal Bones?
The relevant bones are the Calcaneus, Cuboid, Navicular, Talus, and three Cuneiform bones. These bones can be fractured through a sudden impact or force or through repetitive forces, resulting in a stress (hairline) fracture. Stress fractures of the Navicular and the Calcaneus are the most common.
Treatment of a Tarsal Fracture
For a traumatic fracture, most patients will have to wear a cast for around 6 weeks, and must not put weight on the foot during this time.
For stress fractures, a walking boot or just crutches may be issued to reduce the weight on the foot.
Internal fixation surgery is possible if the bone is too unstable to heal on its own, but it is usually not recommended.