Foot and ankle fractures can be very difficult to differentiate from a sprain or other injury. It can be nearly impossible to diagnose with certainty without the use of an X-ray. Ankle and foot fractures are common sports injuries, but there are a lot of ways that a foot or ankle can be fractured.
It is very common that twisting and over-exertion of the joints can cause fractures. Fractures can even happen when the ligaments and tendons are twisted or pulled in such a way that too much stress is placed on the bones of the foot or ankle.
The feet and ankles are used every day and often throughout each movement of the extremities. There are many ways by which a foot or ankle can be fractured, below is a list of just a few:
Many people fracture bones in the feet or ankles while playing sports or exercising, although there are several risk factors that can make you more susceptible to foot and ankle fractures. These include, but are not limited to:
Foot and ankle fractures are difficult to differentiate from sprains. Often, a sprain can cause more discomfort than a fracture. Some of the symptoms may include pain, often not coming from the exact area of the fracture. The pain in the ankle is usually what stops you from walking and prompts a doctor visit. Other symptoms may include swelling, bruising, deformities of bones around the ankle, skin stretched over an underlying broken bone, or maybe even actually exposed bone. When you injure an ankle, there are particulars to look for to determine whether or not you need to see your doctor, or perhaps even go to an emergency department. You should see your doctor as soon as possible if:
Once a doctor examines your ankle, the objective is to determine if you have a fracture or if the joint has been damaged sufficiently to have become unstable. Joint instability often suggests multiple fractures, a fracture with a ligament injury, or sometimes ligament injury alone. The doctor will also seek a history of the injury with questions that address different mechanisms of injury since these mechanisms are associated with different fracture patterns. The doctor will be evaluating bruising, abrasions, cuts, swelling, bleeding, tissue damage, pain, deformities, and the grinding or movement of broken bones of the knee, shin, ankle, and foot. He or she will also evaluate excess looseness of a joint, or complete tear in ligaments, as well as fluid in the joint, joint stability. Pulse and evidence of injured vessels and sensation and movement in both foot and ankle will also factor into your doctor’s evaluation. If the doctor suspects a broken bone, he or she will ask for ankle x-rays and may also ask for x-rays of your knee, shin, or foot, depending on where the pain is.
Obviously, if you suspect a fracture, you should see your doctor or visit the emergency department of a local hospital immediately for treatment for a foot fracture. However, you can take some steps until you can get to a hospital or doctor’s office for your treatment of a foot fracture. These include resting, or staying off the injured foot/ankle so you don’t injure it further, keeping the foot elevated to help decrease swelling and pain, and applying cold packs or ice to the injured area to decrease swelling and pain. It’s important to remember not to apply ice directly to your skin. Cold packs are generally effective for up to 48 hours only. Anti-inflammatory medications may also be ideal for coupling with the treatment of ankle fracture injuries since they generally address pain and inflammation both. Your doctor can determine if you need further treatment for ankle fracture injuries.
Diablo Foot and Ankle provides quality treatments for foot and ankle fractures. Call us today to schedule your appointment. We are here to help!