Dealing with Foot Fractures

Dealing with Foot FracturesAccording to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, foot fractures are small cracks in the bone. The cause is usually overuse in high impact sports such as tennis, track and field, gymnastics, dance, and basketball. Muscles can become overtired and rendered less capable of cushioning shocks, transferring the stress to the bones. Hence, a stress fracture can result. Lack of conditioning, improper sports equipment, bad technique, and bone insufficiency such as caused by osteoposis can increase the possibility of a stress fracture.

The fracture can manifest itself by pain, inflammation, swelling, and tenderness. The pain especially can be felt when doing weight bearing activities.

If you suspect that you have a stress fracture in the foot or ankle, stop vigorous physical activity and perform first aid, such as applying an ice pack, even before seeing a St. Peters foot doctor. Otherwise, the fracture can become a complete break.

The podiatrist will take your medical history and perform a physical examination. He or she might also take an X-Ray or a bone scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Depending on the location and the severity of the fracture, the doctor will recommend keeping off your feet or switching to less stressful exercises like swimming and bicycling. Your podiatrist may advise you to wear protective footwear or even, in some cases, a cast. In more severe cases, surgery may be indicated. The doctor will also advise on any diet and lifestyle changes you might want to do in order to avoid further fractures. Once the pain is gone and the fracture healed, your foot doctor will advise you to return gradually to your previous exercise regime.

Broken Ankle & Foot Injuries May Warrant Testing for Compartment Syndrome

Broken Ankle & Foot InjuriesAs we all know, there are many different foot and ankle injuries that may befall an individual. However, some of the most life altering ones are crushing injuries. They, by their very nature, have the ability to cause widespread and sometimes irreversible damage to the foot and ankle. That’s why many Farmington podiatrists believe in examining patients with broken ankles and crushed feet for signs and symptoms typically associated with compartment syndrome.

Compartment syndrome is primarily associated with crushing injuries that involve osseofascial compartments. Osseofascial compartments are found in a human’s limbs. They are actually closed segments within the limbs that are defined by fascia and bone. The foot alone has at least six such areas. They are known as the calcaneal, lateral, interosseous, superficial, adductor and medial compartments. The ankle is also affected by the four compartments that exist in the lower leg. They are known as superficial posterior, anterior, lateral and deep posterior compartments.

Within the defined borders mentioned above are muscles, soft tissue, tendons, blood vessels and nerves. As such, the areas have their own interstitial pressure level, which may be altered by crushing injuries and certain diseases. Once that pressure level is altered, it may disrupt the normal flow of blood. That, in turn, may cause tissue death, nerve damage, skin tightness and the formation of foot and ankle ulcers.

To determine whether or not a person has compartment syndrome, podiatrists may order an interstitial pressure test or CT arthrography and conduct a physical exam. If the interstitial pressure in the broken ankle or foot needs to be adjusted, a podiatrist may recommend that the patient undergo a fasciotomy.

It is a complicated, surgical procedure designed to immediately reduce the pressure in the affected area or areas. Afterward, the patient must typically restrict his or her movements for a minimum of five days and then potentially undergo a second surgical procedure to permanently close the open incisions (e.g. skin grafts). Once the second surgery has been completed, the patient may be faced with additional downtime.

In other instances, podiatrists may suggest that the patients with broken ankles try bed rest, foot elevation, anti-inflammatory medications, pneumatic intermittent impulse compression devices and splinting instead. It really all hinges upon how severe the change in pressure is and how long it has been left unchecked. To learn more about compartment syndrome and the treatments involved, please contact your local podiatry office.

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5 Tips for Preventing Foot and Ankle Injuries/Fractures

Treatment for Foot FracturesFoot and ankle injuries, particularly stress fractures, are an unfortunately all-too-common side effect in many runners, athletes, and sports enthusiasts alike. Soccer and tennis players, as well as track and field participants are among the many people who need to adhere to strict training routines in order to avoid any lengthy and nagging problems from occurring. What follows are five simple tips and precautions we can all take if we enjoy any of these activities, to avoid foot fractures and other foot and ankle problems:

  • Two Minute Warming – Warm up your muscles by stretching or jogging slowly for at least two to three minutes before any sports related activity. Be careful not to perform any bouncing motions when stretching, whereas this can actually cause injury.
  • If you Build Them, They Will Come – Gradually build your muscles by properly conditioning them. This conditioning can be done by slowly increasing your workout or activity over the period of several weeks at the time.
  • If the Shoe Fits, Wear It – Always take the time and effort to research and buy properly fitting, supportive, and comfortable shoes. It can also help to buy the appropriate shoe for the corresponding activity, e.g., tennis shoes for tennis, golf shoes for golf, etc. Cross-trainers are a great all-purpose solution, but specialized shoes are usually best. Replacing shoes regularly is a good idea as well. Active runners and other athletes should replace shoes every six months at least, maybe even more often.
  • Watch Your Step – If you’re a trail runner, be wary of stumps, rocks, and other uneven ground. These are big problems and typical causes of foot fractures and ankle injuries among runners. Also, pick a soft surface like dirt when possible for running. Otherwise asphalt is actually a bit softer than concrete. The softer the surface you run on, the less shock impact that your lower legs will have to absorb.
  • Pay Attention – If you start experiencing pain during your athletic activity, temporarily stop the activity while you recover. When you feel an appropriate amount of time for healing has elapsed, begin your activity again slowly and pay attention to what your body is telling you regarding any sort of potential injury, in the form of recurring pain or discomfort.

These are just a few precautions that can be taken to continue to do some of the healthy things that you love best as an active individual. Perhaps the Cardinal Rule, however, is to use common sense. Do pay particular attention to what your body is telling you. This will avoid any extended periods of forced inactivity due to long-lasting and bothersome foot or ankle injuries. And remember…if you suffer a foot or ankle injury call your Missouri podiatrists to schedule an office visit.