Trauma to any of the bones or soft tissue of the foot or ankle may cause pain, inflammation, difficulty walking, and an inability to put weight on the foot. Trauma can lead to limping or the complete inability to walk and bear weight on the affected leg. Among the most common foot and ankle injuries are sprains, strains, and fractures. Ankle sprains alone account for over 25,000 injuries a day in the U.S., while ankle injuries in general account for over 1 million emergency room visits per year. Note- these injuries may be avoided by following these preventative tips.
Strains, stretches, and tears of the muscles are often caused by quick, sudden twists or pulls. These are classified as joint problems. Injuries can result from a fall, a sudden twist, or blow to the body that forces a joint out of its normal position. Ankles are the most common place a sprain can occur.
Fractures, or breaks in a bone, often results from trauma, overuse, and in some cases diseases that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis. These tend to be caused by slips, falls, or direct impact to the foot and ankle. An example of “direct impact” might include an automobile accident.
Both degeneration (aging) and repetitive stress to the foot and ankle may increase the likelihood of a sustaining a traumatic injury.
There are several different methods used to diagnose and distinguish foot and ankle trauma. Some of these methods include:
Generally, the first step taken in treating a foot and ankle trauma injury involves the use of the R.I.C.E. technique (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Evaluation). This technique is particularly helpful in treating strains and sprains, however for more serious soft tissue injuries, an orthopedic brace may be needed.
For fractures or breaks in the bone, casts or orthopedic braces may be utilized. Oftentimes, both solutions are worn for several weeks to aid in healing.
Not all foot and ankle trauma will require surgery, but severe injuries often will, including:
Dr. McAlister is highly trained in severe foot and ankle trauma and fractures that may require surgery. He is a board-certified fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon whose surgical practice focuses solely on surgery of the foot and ankle.