If you’re having difficulties bearing weight on one of your legs and you notice tenderness or bruising along the outside of your foot, you may have a cuboid fracture. These are actually quite rare. In order to properly diagnose your condition, you should consult your doctor for an x-ray on an MRI test to confirm it.
More people are affected by a different condition called cuboid syndrome which is caused by an injury to the ligaments and joints around the cuboid bone. This article will expand your knowledge regarding cuboid fractures and help you differentiate between the two conditions. You’ll learn about the causes and symptoms. We’ll also tell you about the varying treatment options. But first, let’s talk about what the cuboid is.
The Cuboid Bone
The cuboid bone is one of the tarsal bones in the foot. It is located on the external part of the foot and it has six sides that connect the foot to the ankle. The bone is located between the fourth and fifth metatarsals and it plays a vital role in keeping the foot stable. Each of the six sides serves a different purpose.
The dorsal or top surface is rough, and it is attached to the ligaments in the foot. The plantar surface which is situated at the front of the foot has a deep hollow for the plantar ligament and the peroneus longus tendon. The lateral surface also has a hollow which is called the peroneal sulcus. The back or posterior side forms a joint with the calcaneus’ front surface. The anterior side is designed to accommodate the tarsometatarsal joints. Finally, the inner side of the cuboid bone forms a joint with the third cuneiform and the navicular bone.
What Causes Fractures in the Cuboid Bone?
As noted in the introduction, cuboid fractures are rare. In fact, sometimes doctors miss them during the first examination. There are two types of cuboid fractures: those which occur from stress and those which occur from trauma. Traumatic fractures tend to occur when your foot buckles and crushes the cuboid. This called a nutcracker fracture and it is usually the result of an athletic injury, vehicular accident or a misstep from a height.
A significant amount of stress on the foot bone, especially during a long-distance run, can also lead to the development of fracture over time. This is more likely if you are wearing inappropriate footwear and running or training on hard surfaces. Cuboid fractures can occur along with other injuries to the bones of the foot.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Patients with a cuboid bone fracture are generally unable to bear weight on the affected foot. There may also be tenderness and bruising around the area. Sometimes pain radiates through the sole and up to the ankle. Doctors usually conduct physical exams and perform x-rays to diagnose cuboid fractures. The pain of a stress fracture may be mild until you try to walk or put weight on the foot. A cuboid fracture can be sometimes be misdiagnosed as an ankle sprain. If your symptoms persist for more than three months, you should make another appointment to see your doctor.
Treatment Options for Cuboid Fractures
Traumatic fractures of the cuboid bone can be difficult to fix if the shape of the bone is destroyed. Plates, screws, external fixators and bone grafts can all be used to repair the bone. Surgery is done to restore the bone to its regular shape and return the side of the foot to its regular length. Stress fractures may be treated using a cast boot. The patient will be on crutches for about a month or six weeks.
What is Cuboid Syndrome?
The connective tissues between the cuboid bone and the ankle can strain and tear during an injury. This causes misalignment of the bones over time through repetitive movements. This is called gradual subluxation. One of the bones in the joint may shift but it won’t move fully out of place. Cuboid Syndrome can also be caused by sudden injury such as an inversion sprain of the ankle. Climbing stairs and not resting properly after strenuous activity can also play a role. Cuboid Syndrome is more common among athletes and dancers than in the general population.
Here are some symptoms:
- Difficulty and an increased pain when running, walking and standing on one leg.
- Unbearable pain in the foot, commonly in the morning.
- Swelling and tenderness specifically on the outer edge of the foot.
- Bruising over or around the cuboid.
There several ways of treating Cuboid Syndrome, depending on the seriousness of the condition and the individual’s particular injury. Here are some of them.
The simplest way to help treat uncritical foot injury or fracture is by ice therapy. This method can aid in reducing the pain and inflammation. You can do this by simply placing an ice pack wrapped in a towel over the foot for several minutes.
Doctors, podiatrists, and physical therapists will suggest manipulation for treating a subluxated cuboid. This method involves the relocation of the bone using a high velocity and small amplitude thrust. This procedure is not applicable for those who are suffering from gout, rheumatoid arthritis, fracture, or any bone-related issues.
Cuboid Wedge and Orthotics
Adding support with a small foam wedge in your shoe can also aid in placing the foot bone in the correct position. Orthotics, on the other hand, is used for relieving tension on the tendons between the foot bones and the arches while correcting the foot position.
Taping method is used for stabilizing the bones in the foot and the ankle. It holds the cuboid bone in proper position as the torn connective muscle tissues heal. This helps the patient to walk without experiencing pain.
Rest and Exercise
During the recovery process, you should avoid doing aggravating activities in order to speed up healing. Daily movement and strengthening exercises also prevent the foot from getting stiff and weak. Rest and exercise have to prevent further injuries and sprains.
Cuboid fractures are rare but they do occur. If you are an athlete or dancer, you should be on the lookout for symptoms of a foot injury like a fracture or Cuboid Syndrome. In order to prevent any possible complications of cuboid fractures, you should always consult your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms. Doctors can conduct x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans to determine the cause of your pain. They can also prescribe you proper treatments which can reduce the pain and inflammation.