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Broken foot, burning, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, painful, itchy feeling. Should I go back to putting zero weight on it?

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I broke my foot (fifth metatarsal) 4 weeks ago. It was healing fine, but in the last few days, it seems to be doing a u-turn and getting worse. Constant burning. Numb. Tingling. Pins and needles. Shooting pains in the bad area but also other places in my foot. 'Itchy' but inside - like a dung beetle is in there scratching away inside the foot trying to get out. Strange confusing feelings all over the foot. Swelling is minor so there's nothing much there visibly. The pain changes every couple of hours and has been doing this for the past week now. I have a couple of x-ray photos I could email if it would help. My main worry is whether I should go back to putting zero weight on it? Or are these sensations normal at this stage? I'm on crutches and my wrists are grateful for any bit of weight I can put on it, but don't want to make it worse. (I was on non-weight bearing for the first 2 weeks, but was told I could put a bit on it (e.g. on the heel) about 2 weeks ago.) But why the strange pains? It feels as though it's 'alive' or connected to electricity. It's making me feel crazy because the sensations are constant and in all areas of my foot (one area at a time though), e.g. ankle, big toe, arch of foot (dull pain feeling there mostly). Very, very distracting - and extremely tiresome - more distracting than painful. I don't know what to do to minimise the sensations. Pain killers don't seem to helping - I'm on a combination of paracetamol, ibubrofen/naproxen, codeine. Any ideas? It's relentless...
Posted Mon, 3 Sep 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 1 hour later
Thanks for posting your query.
The X-rays attached are suggestive of mild amount of soft callus formation. Since it is a comminuted fracture- multiple fragments are there- these are likely to irritate the nerve endings. The sensation of numbness, burning, itching and pins and needles are commonly associated with healing fracture.
In case the sensations are constant and are gradually increasing then swelling at the fracture site needs to be examined after removal of the cast. A tight cast may compress the foot compromising its blood supply and thus causing all these symptoms. Pain killers are not likely to help your symptoms.
You can keep your toes moving to increase the blood circulation in the area. Avoid weight bearing for a few days and see if it improves. Keep your foot elevated on two pillows while resting.
If the tips of toes show any bluish discoloration then you must get the area examined by your orthopedician after removal of the cast as it is suggestive of a compromised blood circulation in the area.
I hope this answers your query.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Broken foot, burning, numbness, tingling, pins and needles, painful, itchy feeling. Should I go back to putting zero weight on it? 57 minutes later
Dear Dr Tayal,
Thank you for that helpful reply. I was in a cast for the first couple of weeks but I'm now with an orthopedic boot. The swelling is minimal. So should I just leave it? I can't see my consultant for another two weeks. Can I delay healing if I DON'T put any weight on it? It's certainly happier without any weight on it - or at the least the crazy sensations are lessened when not trying to walk on - but again I don't want to delay healing by doing this.
Best wishes.
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 10 hours later
Thanks for writing again.
Since the swelling is minimal, there is nothing to worry. Not putting the weight certainly will not retard the healing. You can avoid bearing weight to help your symptoms.
Also, you can remove the boot while resting and keep your foot elevated on two pillows at night.
Non weight bearing physiotherapy of the foot will also be helpful.
Hope my answer is helpful.
Do accept my answer in case there are no further queries.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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