Your feet and ankles have a heavy job to do — supporting you throughout your life as you walk, run, jog, dance, and play sports, when they take a particular pounding. Sometimes the stress is just too much, and you’ll get a fracture in your foot or ankle.
Physicians at City Podiatry treat these fractures every day; you’re in expert hands if you have a broken bone in your foot or ankle. Following are three common types of foot and ankle fractures and how to treat them.
A stress fracture is a crack or break in a bone, but luckily the bone hasn’t moved out of place. Stress fractures occur when the same force presses on a bone repeatedly over a number of years. They’re more likely to happen when you suddenly increase the amount of time you’re playing a sport or exercising. For example, if you normally play tennis twice a week but enter a weekend tournament and play all weekend, you’re at increased risk of a stress fracture of your foot or ankle.
Your treatment is likely to look as follows:
You’ll need to rest the foot and forgo the tennis court for a while. Icing the spot where the fracture is, using compression stockings to reduce swelling, and elevating the legs are all important steps during the first 24-48 hours.
Taking pain relievers can help reduce inflammation and swelling. When the swelling goes down, you’ll start bearing a little weight on the foot as long as it doesn’t cause pain, but stay off the foot as much as possible for at least a couple of weeks. Once recovery has started, some amount of weight-bearing is actually helpful in promoting healing.
Your City Podiatry physician lets you know if you should wear a walking boot which supports and protects your foot and ankle, or if a splint is necessary to immobilize the broken bone. Many stress fractures heal within six to eight weeks.
Another type of common fracture is a broken ankle. An ankle fracture is a traumatic fracture that occurs when tremendous pressure forces the ankle to twist abnormally and then break. Ankle fractures can occur in a number of ways — for example, from a fall or a vehicle accident. They happen often during contact sports such as football, baseball, and basketball; but can happen as well through non-contact sports where you also pivot quickly, like tennis or racquetball.
Treatment for a broken ankle depends on a number of factors. If the fracture is ‘clean’ without bone fragments suspended in the joint, your City Podiatry physician may be able to put a splint or cast on your ankle for a few weeks. You’ll be able to resume your normal routine in approximately three or four months, but your doctor will likely recommend that you wear a brace during sports.
If the bone has been moved out of place or more than one bone is affected and/or a ligament injury occurs with the fracture, your doctor may recommend surgery. He’ll realign the bones, clear away fragments, and repair damaged ligaments. Bones take at least six weeks to heal. If ligaments are part of the equation, recovery takes a few months.
Whether you’re in a splint, cast, or have surgery, you’ll need physical therapy to help you regain range of motion and muscle tone in the injured ankle. You’ll receive complete post-op instructions for care after the operation and go for follow-up visits during the healing process.
A third common type of foot fracture is a broken toe. In most instances, a broken toe occurs from a traumatic injury when a heavy object falls on the toe. Your toe is painful and swollen and it’s hard to walk. You may be tempted to let a broken toe heal on its own, but if it doesn’t heal correctly you could get arthritis in the toe, resulting in chronic pain.
You’ll follow the RICE method if you have a broken toe. Your physician may tape the toe to the one next to it to provide support. Surgery might be needed if it’s a compound fracture.
Call City Podiatry or request an appointment through our online portal for all of your foot and ankle needs.