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Foot and ankle injuries

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 podiatrist.

Common myths

“It can’t be broken, because I can move it.” False

This widespread idea has kept many fractures from receiving proper treatment. The trust is that often you can walk with certain kinds of fractures. Some common examples: breaks of the thinner of the two leg bones; small ‘chip’ fracture of either foot or ankle bones; and the frequently neglected fracture of a 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 displaced fracture, care by your podiatrist 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. Many patients develop post-fracture deformity of a toe, which in turn results in formation of a painfully deformed toe with a most 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

Do not use heat or hot water if you suspect a 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 effect, and prevents swelling and pain. After seeing a podiatrist, warm compresses and soaks may be used.

“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, immobilisation by casting or splinting, and physiotherapy to insure a normal recovery all may be indicated. Surgery may even be necessary.

“The terms ‘fracture,’ ‘break,’ and ‘crack’ are all different.” False

All of these words can be used to describe a broken bone.