The feet and ankles are extremely vulnerable to all kinds of painful cuts and injuries—everything from lacerations and fractures to sprains and tendon ruptures.
Runners, athletes, and active people of all ages (including those who work on their feet) are particularly vulnerable, but you don’t have to be constantly on the move to suffer an injury. An awkward step off a curb or accidentally stepping on a sharp object can do a lot of damage, too.
Foot and ankle injuries should always be considered serious matters. Without prompt care, even injuries that start out as dull aches can develop into much more serious and long-lasting concerns.
What Should You Do When You Injure Your Foot?
Whether you’ve suffered a sudden trauma (like an ankle sprain or cut) or simply noticed that you’re starting to develop chronic pain associated with certain activities, there are three simple steps you should follow:
- Begin RICE therapy. You can read more about RICE therapy in this blog, but basically, it just means resting your foot and using ice, compression, and elevation as necessary for at least a few days to minimize swelling and pain and reduce the risk of compounding the injury.
- Call 911 if the injury is an emergency. A bone that pierces the skin or extreme pain that is impossible to manage should receive immediate, emergency attention.
- Call Massapequa Podiatry Associates. Because we deal exclusively with feet and ankles, we are the experts when it comes to diagnosing, treating, and preventing foot and ankle injuries of all types. We often have same-day appointments available, too. So before you go to urgent care, give us a call first—we will probably be able to give you faster and more specialized care!
Common Foot & Ankle Injuries We Treat
Below, you can read about some of the more common foot and ankle traumas and injuries we care for on a regular basis. This is not a complete list! If there’s any doubt, please err on the side of caution and call us. Whether we recommend you come in for an appointment or we just give you advice over the phone, we can help with almost any foot or ankle problem you might be experiencing.
This is what most people think of when they hear “broken bone.” Traumatic fractures occur when a bone snaps, breaks, splinters, shatters, or otherwise separates into two or more pieces. They can occur as the result of falling off a ladder, dropping something on your foot, jamming your toe, etc.
Common signs of a broken foot, toe, or ankle include throbbing pain, swelling, bruising, or difficulty moving or bearing weight. If your feet look misshapen or deformed, that’s another obvious sign. However, not all foot fractures result in significant misalignment in the bone ends.
If you suspect there’s even a possibility of a foot, ankle, or toe fracture, please call us right away so we can evaluate your condition and get started on treatment before the injury has a chance to worsen. Stable fractures can often be treated without surgery, while more complex breaks may require surgical repair. Either way, we’ll carefully review our recommended course of action with you beforehand, and you can feel confident in the skill of our doctors to provide the highest quality surgical or nonsurgical care.
Not every broken bone is the result of a traumatic episode. Sometimes the repetitive stresses of high-impact sports, active occupations, or just gradual wear and tear eventually lead to tiny cracks in the surface of bones called stress fractures. This generally happens when fatigue in the soft tissues of your feet lose the ability to absorb shocks properly, transferring more of that pressure to the bones.
Although stress fractures usually don’t require surgery, you’ll need a professional to coach you through conservative therapies and make sure you rest long enough for the bones to fully heal. Returning to full activity too quickly can not only undo all the healing that’s already taken place, but actually make the stress fractures worse than before they started.
Lacerations and Puncture Wounds
Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds can be especially dangerous for feet for a number of reasons.
For starters, your feet aren’t always the cleanest part of your body. If you’ve suffered a laceration or wound there, it’s likely because you stepped on something sharp, like a jagged rock or broken glass. Thus the possibility that foreign debris has entered the break in the skin is relatively high.
Furthermore, circulation to the feet tends to be lower than elsewhere in the body even in healthy individuals, and that’s especially true if you have diabetes. Combine that with the fact that you may continue to put weight and pressure on the laceration, and you can see why cuts and wounds on the feet often take longer to heal and have a higher risk of infection.
A small, clean cut can often be treated at home by washing, applying an antibiotic ointment, and bandaging. However, jagged cuts, deeper lacerations, and punctures to the feet should be evaluated by our team. We’ll assess the state of the damage, clean any foreign debris that may have entered, apply any necessary antibiotics, and determine the best way to close the wound (surgical tape, skin glue, stitches, etc.)
Even after treatment, the laceration will remain vulnerable to further irritation or damage. You will likely have to keep weight off the foot for a period of time while it heals. We’ll provide you with detailed instructions covering any aftercare that may be required.
Please keep a careful eye on your laceration during the recovery process and call us immediately if you detect any signs of infection.
Ankle Sprain and Fractures
The complex and relatively unprotected ankle joint often proves to be the weakest point of your lower limbs as far as injuries are concerned. As a result, ankle sprains are the most common athletic injury, while full-blown fractures are also prevalent.
You should never underestimate a sprain: it’s always wise to get a professional evaluation and treatment, for two really important reasons.
First, a severe sprain may be masking a more severe injury underneath. You’d be surprised how often people stumble into our office with a sprain that “just won’t heal” and are shocked when we tell them they have a severe break.
Second, frequent sprains (or even just one or two that don’t heal properly) can permanently weaken the supporting tendons and ligaments, leading to chronic issues with ankle stability.
Achilles Tendon Injuries
Achilles tendon injuries can either be the result of repetitive stresses (such as going too hard at impact sports without preparing your body for activity or giving yourself enough rest time between sessions) or a sudden, painful injury. They’re most common among middle-aged adults—a time in life when the fibers of the tendon weaken and lose flexibility before you’re entirely ready to slow down—although they can happen to anyone.
A strained, inflamed tendon from repetitive stresses is called Achilles tendinitis or tendinopathy, and it’s usually treatable through conservative means. If the tendon ruptures partially or entirely, surgery may be recommended (although in some cases it may be dealt with non-invasively—there are pros and cons to each approach).
Other Common Foot & Ankle Injuries We Treat
Our foot and ankle injury care doesn’t stop there! Some other problems we frequently address include:
- Black toenails: Blood pooling under the nail, often from running in shoes that are too tight.
- Shin splints: An overuse injury, common among runners, caused by painful inflammation of tissues on the inside of the shin.
- Turf toe: A ligament sprain located at the base of the big toe, usually from an overextension injury.
- Heel, arch, and forefoot pain: Sports participation or active occupations and hobbies may contribute to painful conditions of the heels, arches, or forefoot, particularly in those with pre-existing foot deformities or structural issues such as overpronation or flat feet. Specific conditions may include plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, and others.
If your feet, ankles, or lower limbs are hurting for any reason, it’s important not to simply push through the pain! Be proactive and seek professional care; in many cases conservative treatment options (plus a little bit of rest) can help you overcome your discomfort, prevent future problems, and get back on the court, field, or trail as quickly as possible.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Fox, please fill out our online contact form or give us a call at 516-541-9000.