Foot and Ankle Injuries
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.
There are lots of myths about foot and ankle injuries. Some of them follow,
- “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.
- “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, 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.
- “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. An ice bag wrapped in a towel has a contracting effect on blood vessels, produces a numbing effect, and prevents swelling and pain.
- “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.
- “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.