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Broken Foot

Exams and Tests

The doctor will ask you about the injury and examine you. X-rays are often useful in diagnosing broken bones in the foot, but sometimes they are not needed.

  • Injured toes are usually treated in the same way whether they are broken or just bruised, so X-rays are often 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 may use the "Ottawa foot rules" to decide if an X-ray is needed. If none of the following are present, an X-ray is usually not required.

    • Pain when the doctor pushes over the base of the fifth metatarsal bone

    • Pain when the doctor pushes over the navicular bone

    • Inability to take 4 steps, both immediately after injury and at the examination

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

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