Our feet take a lot of abuse. Injuries to the foot and ankle happen every day and some can be quite serious. An injury to the foot or ankle should never be ignored. Early and proper treatment by a podiatrist can ensure proper healing, and prevent long term foot or mobility problems.
Broken bones in the foot and ankle are not uncommon, and they must be treated by a professional. Depending on the bone involved, casts, splints, surgery, and the use of crutches may all be involved in treatment and recovery.
Other than a fracture, one of the most common injuries to the foot is an ankle sprain.
What You Need to Know About Sprained Ankles
Every day in the U.S., 25,000 people sprain their ankle. And more than 1 million people visit emergency rooms each year because of ankle injuries. The most common ankle injuries are sprains and fractures, which involve ligaments and bones in the ankle. But you can also tear or strain a tendon.
A sprained ankle occurs when there is a stretching and tearing of ligaments surrounding the ankle joint. These ligaments can become pulled and torn when the ankle is forced or twisted into an abnormal position.
This happens most often when running or jumping on an uneven surface, or running down a flight of stairs. The foot rolls inward or outward stretching the ligaments. Pain is the immediate result, sometimes accompanied by a loud “snap” or “pop.” This is usually followed by a swelling of the ankle.
Immediate home treatment for a sprained ankle is to apply the “RICE” protocol.
- Rest – Restrict your activity and get off of your 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 – Sit in a position that allows you to elevate your foot or ankle above your waist.
If pain and swelling persist, see your doctor or podiatrist. A severely sprained ankle may require specialized treatment to reduce scar tissue, and physical therapy to ensure proper healing.
Prevention I the Best Medicine for Ankle Injuries
One of the best ways to deal with foot or ankle injuries is to try to avoid them altogether. You can prevent or minimize foot and ankle injuries by:
- Always wearing the right kind of shoes for a given activity.
- Don’t wear shoes that are worn out or uncomfortable.
- Don’t walk barefoot on paved streets or sidewalks.
- Watch out for slippery floors at home, work, or wherever you are walking.
- Avoid broken toes and other foot injuries by turning on a light before getting out of bed and walking in the dark.
Foot and Ankle Injuries Can Happen to Anyone
Sports professionals or others that make a living on their feet such as dancers, know how devastating an ankle injury can be. But, you don’t have to be a star athlete or prima ballerina to sprain or strain an ankle. All it takes is something as simple as walking on an uneven surface, or stepping off of a stairway wrong, to cause a painful, debilitating sprain.
Knowing how to avoid ankle injuries and the basic RICE treatments for minor ones, can help “keep you in the game.”