If you are suffering pain or discomfort in your foot, ankle, or lower leg, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible. After an initial physical examination, your doctor may suggest an X-ray to determine if your foot is broken or if there is another issue that is causing the pain.

Why X-rays may be needed

Although not as helpful for diagnosing soft tissue or ligament problems, X-rays are very useful when dealing with foot and ankle pain related to bones or other solid objects. A foot, ankle, or lower-leg X-ray may be needed to detect: 

  • Abnormal bone growths.
  • Arthritis.
  • Bone cancer and tumors.
  • Broken bones and fractures. 
  • Bunions. 
  • Infection of bone. 
  • Joint dislocation. 
  • Normal growth of child's bones.
  • Presence of foreign object. 
  • Proper alignment of bones after treatment.

Overview of X-rays

An X-ray uses beams of low-level radiation to create a picture of the inside of your body. Bones and other dense materials (including foreign objects) reflect the rays differently and appear white on the X-ray picture. The produced image allows the doctor to see any breaks, growths, or abnormalities.

Although the amount of radiation from a single X-ray scan is not considered harmful to adults, pregnant women should avoid X-rays when possible and should use a lead apron to shield the fetus when necessary.