There are many myths regarding foot and ankle injuries, that can lead to either incorrect treatment or overlooking of serious situations. Below are a few of these myths:
Myth: It can’t be broken, because I can move it
Fact: 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 include 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.
Myth: If you break a toe, immediate care isn’t necessary
Fact: 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, and can require a second look 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.
Myth: If you have a foot or ankle injury, soak it in hot water immediately
Fact: 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.
Myth: Applying an elastic bandage to a severely sprained ankle is adequate treatment
Fact: 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.
Myth: The terms ‘fracture,’ ‘break,’ and ‘crack’ are all different
Fact: all of those words are proper in describing a broken bone.
Treatment of Foot & Ankle Injuries
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 acronym “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.
There are a number of different treatments for different issues and conditions. Visit the foot and ankle treatment section for more information.
Before seeing the Podiatrist:
- 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.
For more information on foot & ankle injuries, or to have your feet & ankles assessed and treated, contact us today to schedule an appointment at the AFACC clinic nearest you.