Foot and Ankle Injuries

Foot and ankle emergencies occur daily: fractures, dislocations, sprains, bumps, bruises and infections can occur at any time.
Early care is vital to longterm result.

Foot and Ankle Sprains

Unnatural forces of twisting on the joints to the foot and ankle may result in excessive stretching and/or tearing of one or more ligaments on the outside of the joints that hold the joints together.  The degree of damage depends on the severity of the sprain and will dictate the type and duration of treatment.
Without proper treatment, the foot or ankle sprain joint sprained may develop long-term problems.

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Immediate Treatment

Primary symptoms of ankle sprains are pain following a twist or injury, swelling, and bruising.
Treatment includes resting and elevating the ankle and applying ice to reduce swelling. Compressive bandages also may be used to immobilize and support the injury during healing. Serious ankle sprains, particularly among competitive athletes, may require surgery to repair and tighten the damaged ligaments.
To prevent ankle sprains, try to maintain strength, balance, and flexibility in the foot and ankle through exercise and stretching, and wearing well-fitted shoes.

Foot and Ankle Injuries

This advice is universal, if an injury or accident does occur, immediate care called “rice” is recommended.

  • Rest. Restrict your activity and get off your foot/ankle.
  • Ice. Gently place a plastic bag of ice wrapped in a towel on the injured area in a 20-minute-on, 40-minute-off cycle.
  • Compression. Lightly wrap an Ace bandage around the area, taking care not to pull it too tight.
  • Elevation. To reduce swelling and pain, sit in a position that allows you to elevate the foot/ankle higher than your waist.

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For Open Wounds

  • For bleeding cuts, cleanse well, apply pressure with gauze or a towel, and cover with a clean dressing.
  • See your podiatrist as soon as possible. It?s best not to use any medication on the cut before you see the doctor.
  • Leave blisters unopened if they are not painful or in a weight-bearing area of the foot. A compression bandage placed over a blister can provide relief.
  • Foreign materials in the skin,such as slivers, splinters, and sand,can be removed carefully, but a deep foreign object, such as broken glass or a needle, must be removed professionally.
  • Treatment for an abrasion is similar to that of a burn, since raw skin is exposed to the air and can easily become infected. It is important to remove all foreign particles with thorough cleaning. Sterile bandages should be applied, along with an antibiotic cream or ointment.


  • Wear the correct shoes for your particular activity.
  • Wear hiking shoes or boots in rough terrain.
  • Don’t continue to wear any sports shoe if it is worn unevenly.
  • The toe box in “steel-toe” shoes should be deep enough to accommodate your toes comfortably.
  • Always wear hard-top shoes when operating a lawn mower or other grass-cutting equipment.
  • Don’t walk barefoot on paved streets or sidewalks.
  • Watch out for slippery floors at home and at work.
  • If you get up during the night, turn on a light.

2011 American Podiatric Medical Association, Inc. All rights reserved.