Slippery winter conditions often accelerate falls and can cause more severe trauma to the ankle joint because the foot can turn in various directions upon slipping. This can lead to serious injury. However, many people are able to walk away from falls, believing they do not require medical treatment. It is important not to assume that just because you can walk, that you don’t have a badly sprained ankle or broken/fractured bone. Putting weight on the joint can lead to further damage, chronic instability, joint pain and arthritis later on.
Some people may fracture and sprain an ankle at the same time, and a bad sprain can mask the fracture. If you suspect you may have injured your ankle, it is best to have the foot examined as soon as possible so that a proper diagnosis can be made and treatment can begin. If you are unable to visit a foot and ankle surgeon or emergency room right away, you can follow the RICE technique — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation – until you can receive medical care.
According to FootHealthFacts.org, even though symptoms of ankle sprains and fractures are similar, symptoms of a fracture include:
- Pain at the site of the fracture that can extend from the foot to the knee
- Significant swelling
- Blisters over the fracture site
- Bruising soon after the injury
- Bone protruding through the skin — a compound fracture, which requires immediate attention!
Most ankle fractures and some sprains are treated by immobilizing the joint in a cast or splint to foster union and healing. However, surgery may be needed to repair fractures with significant malalignment to unite bone fragments and realign them properly. Newly designed surgical plates and screws allow repair of these injuries with less trauma from surgery. These methods allow smaller incisions to be made to reduce tissue damage, bleeding, and to help speed up the healing process.
If you fall on an icy spot and hurt your ankle, seek medical attention immediately. Early diagnosis and proper treatment of the injury can help reduce the risk of more damage.
If you are experiencing ankle fractures and sprains or other foot and ankle problems, schedule an appointment with a Duly Health and Care podiatrist today.