Education

Injury

Foot and Ankle Injuries

Immediate Treatment

Foot and ankle  emergencies happen every day. Broken bones,  dislocations, sprains, contusions, infections, and other serious injuries can occur at any time. Early attention is vitally important. Whenever you sustain a foot or ankle injury, you should  seek immediate treatment from a podiatric physician.

This advice  is universal, even  though there are lots of myths about foot and ankle  injuries. Some  of them follow:

Myths

  • “It can’t be  broken, because I can move it.” False; this widespread idea has kept many fractures from receiving proper treatment. The truth is that often you can walk  with certain kinds  of fractures. Some  common examples: Breaks in the smaller, outer bone  of the lower leg, small  chip  fractures of either the foot or ankle  bones, and the often neglected fracture of the toe.
  • “If you break a toe, immediate care isn’t necessary.” False; a toe fracture needs  prompt attention. If X-rays reveal it to be a simple, non-displaced fracture, care by your podiatric physician usually can produce rapid relief. However, X-rays might identify a displaced or angulated break. In such cases,  prompt realignment of the fracture by your podiatric physician will  help  prevent improper or incomplete healing. Often, fractures do not show  up in the initial X-ray. It may  be necessary to X-ray the foot a second  time, seven  to ten days later. Many patients develop post-fracture deformity of a toe, which  in turn results in a deformed toe with a painful corn. A good general rule is:  Seek prompt treatment for injury to foot bones.
  • “If you have a foot or ankle injury, soak it in hot water immediately.” False; don’t use heat or hot water on an area suspect for fracture, sprain, or dislocation. Heat promotes blood  flow, causing greater swelling. More swelling means  greater pressure on the nerves, which  causes  more pain. An ice bag wrapped in a towel has a contracting effect on blood  vessels, produces a numbing sensation, and prevents swelling and pain. Your podiatric physician may  make  additional recommendations upon  examination.
  • “Applying an  elastic bandage to a severely sprained ankle is adequate treatment.” False; ankle sprains often mean  torn or severely overstretched ligaments, and they should  receive immediate care. X-ray examination, immobilization by casting or splinting, and physiotherapy to ensure a normal recovery all may  be indicated. Surgery may  even  be necessary.
  • “The terms ‘fracture,’ ‘break,’ and ‘crack’ are all different.” False; all of those words are proper in describing a broken bone.

Before Seeing the Podiatrist

If an injury or accident does occur, the steps  you can take to help  yourself until you can reach your podiatric physician are easy to remember if you can recall the word “rice.”

  • Rest. Restrict your activity and get off your foot/ankle.
  • Ice. Gently place a plastic bag of ice wrapped in a towel on the injured area in a 20-minute-on, 40-minute-off cycle.
  • Compression. Lightly wrap an Ace bandage around the area, taking care not to pull  it too tight.
  • Elevation. To reduce swelling and pain, sit in a position that allows  you to elevate the foot/ankle higher than your waist.
  • For bleeding cuts, cleanse  well, apply  pressure with gauze  or a towel, and cover with a clean dressing. See your podiatrist as soon as possible. It’s best  not to use any medication on the cut before you see the doctor.
  • Leave blisters unopened if they are not painful or in a weight-bearing area of the foot. A compression bandage placed  over a blister can provide relief.
  • Foreign materials in the skin—such as slivers, splinters, and sand—can  be removed carefully, but a deep foreign object, such as broken glass or a needle, must be removed professionally.
  •  Treatment for an abrasion is similar to that of a burn, since raw skin  is exposed to the air and can easily become  infected. It is important to remove all foreign particles with thorough cleaning. Sterile bandages should  be applied, along  with an antibiotic cream  or ointment.

Prevention

  • Wear the correct shoes for your particular activity.
  • Wear hiking shoes or boots in rough terrain.
  • Don’t continue to wear any  sports shoe if it is worn unevenly.
  • The toe box in “steel-toe” shoes should  be deep enough to accommodate your toes comfortably.
  • Always  wear hard-top shoes when  operating a lawn  mower or other grass-cutting equipment.
  • Don’t walk  barefoot on paved  streets or sidewalks.
  • Watch out for slippery floors at home  and at work. Clean up obviously dangerous spills  immediately.
  • If you get up during the night, turn on a light. Many fractured toes and other foot injuries occur while attempting to find one’s way  in the dark.

 

At the Family FootCare Center, we specialize in: