What are Foot/Ankle Fractures?
Foot/Ankle fractures occur in one or more of the bones around the ankle and foot complex. Fractures of the foot or ankle can range in severity from a small crack to a complete break.
How Are Foot/Ankle Fractures Classified?
Comminuted Fracture: the bone is broken into more than two pieces
Extra-articular Fracture: The break does not extend into the joint
Intra-articular Fracture: The break penetrates the joint
Open Fracture: The broken bone tears the skin
Types of Foot/Ankle Fractures:
- Ankle fracture: a break in either the tibia (shinbone), the fibula (calf bone), or both
- Calcaneal fracture: a break in the calcaneus (heel bone)
- Metatarsal fracture: a break in one of the five metatarsal bones in the midfoot
- Toe fracture: a break in one or more toes.
- Talus fracture: a break in the talus, a bone in the ankle joint between the tibia and the calcaneus.
- Navicular fracture: a break in the navicular, a small bone on the top of the foot.
- Forefoot or midfoot fracture: a break at the front or middle of the foot.
If any of the following symptoms apply to you, it is important to see a Podiatrist right away to determine if you have a fracture:
- Throbbing pain
- Increased pain during activity and decreased pain during rest
- Inflammation, redness and tenderness
- A deformity of the bone in the foot and/or ankle
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty bearing weight
Causes of Foot / Ankle fractures:
The structure of the foot and ankle contains many bones that intricately work together, and if even one of these bones fractures, it can cause extreme pain and impair mobility.
You are more susceptible to fractures if your foot and ankle bones, ligaments and tendons are weak. Fractures occur when there is trauma to the bone. Traumas may include:
- Rolling the ankle either in or out or twisting it from side to side
- Over-flexing or overextending the joint
- Applying too much force to the ankle or foot (i.e., jumping down forcefully)
- Blunt force (a heavy object falling on the foot or ankle, or a hard fall
How are Foot/ Ankle Fractures Diagnosed?
A podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon who specializes in feet diagnoses fractures. They will assess the injury's severity and determine a treatment plan. Imaging tests will likely be ordered, which may include:
- Musculoskeletal Ultrasound
- CT Scans
- Weight-bearing CT Scan
- Treatment Options for Mild Foot / Ankle Fractures
In some cases, if the fracture is mild and the bone is not shifted, non-surgical treatment may heal it. To treat foot/ankle fractures without surgery, we typically follow the RICE protocol:
Rest: Rest is critical. For your body to heal, you need to rest. Avoid putting pressure on your injured foot, and try not to do any activities that cause pain or discomfort. You will likely wear a cast to help keep the foot/ankle immobilized.
ICE the injury: Ice can help reduce swelling and provide immediate pain relief. Place a cold or frozen vegetable pack wrapped in a towel onto the area for about 20 minutes every two hours. Continue icing every 40 minutes. Refrain from directly placing ice onto the skin.
Compression: Use a bandage wrap to stabilize the joint and reduce swelling. This will also help to prevent any more damage from occurring.
Elevation: Elevate your foot or ankle above the level of your heart to reduce swelling. You can use a stack of pillows to prop it up while you rest or sleep.
Pain medication: After consulting a qualified healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist, you may be prescribed an analgesic to help manage the pain. It is essential only to use recommended doses.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy may be suggested by your podiatrist, which can help to regain the strength of your foot and ankle after the fracture. Physical therapy may involve exercises, such as calf stretching, to reduce stiffness and help you regain movement in the joint.
Foot and ankle fractures can be painful and take a long time to heal. However, properly managing the pain related to these fractures can make a huge difference in your recovery. With the help of these tips and a qualified podiatrist, you can make sure to get the treatment and care you need to recover quickly and thoroughly.
Prevention Tips to Avoid Foot / Ankle Fractures
- Stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle, as weak muscles are more prone to fractures.
- Maintain a healthy body weight to reduce stress on bones and joints.
- Follow an overall healthier lifestyle, including a balanced diet and low levels of alcohol and nicotine consumption.
- Check over medical conditions regularly, such as osteoporosis which can weaken a person’s bones and make them more susceptible to fractures.
- Seek medical attention for any foot or ankle pain, swelling or stiffness.
- Wear protective gear during any sports or physically active activities.
- Wear well-fitting and supportive shoes.
- When carrying heavy loads, be sure to lift with your legs and avoid twisting.
- Take time to warm up before any sports activity or strenuous activities.
- Reduce exposure to obstacles which may increase your risk of fractures, such as slip-resistant surfaces and uneven terrain.
- Stretch regularly and use proper form when lifting weights or doing strengthening exercises.
- Ensure your children’s playground is free from dangers like sharp edges and holes.
- Make sure children wear proper foot protectors such as shin guards when participating in active play.
- Avoid falling by keeping stairs and walkways free from debris.
- Avoid structural and behavioral hazards such as jumping or jumping off height to prevent fractures.
- Use caution when walking on slippery or uneven surfaces.
Latest Advances in Foot and Ankle Fracture Repair
Foot and ankle fracture repair is one of the fastest-growing and most prominent areas in the orthopedic field due to the prevalence of these types of injuries in all age groups. Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of these types of injuries have improved the quality of life for patients who suffer from them. The latest advances in foot and ankle fracture repair enable the physician to perform more complex repairs involving surgical and non-surgical treatments.
One of the most critical advances in foot and ankle fracture repair is the advent of minimally invasive techniques. With the use of minimally invasive techniques, medical professionals can reduce the invasiveness of the repair and achieve better outcomes for their patients. This procedure usually involves making very small incisions to access the fracture site and using small, specialized surgical instruments and stitches to repair the bones.
Another significant advancement in foot and ankle fracture repair is arthroscopy. This technique uses technological advances to enable surgeons to view the inside of the joint and determine an accurate plan of action to repair the fracture. This handy tool reduces the amount of trauma caused to the patient when the injury is addressed.
Finally, using robots has also led to more advanced foot and ankle fracture repairs. Robotic-assisted techniques can help surgeons better understand and address fractures quickly and accurately. This technique has significantly improved the outcomes for their patients and accounts for advantages in accuracy, speed and safety.
Overall, the advances in foot and ankle fracture repair have drastically improved the quality of life for patients. These technologies have given medical professionals a chance to address the fractures quickly and accurately, reducing the amount of trauma caused and leading to more successful outcomes for the patient.
Prosthetic Solutions for Foot and Ankle Fracture Patients
When a patient suffers a foot or ankle fracture, healing can be a long and arduous journey. In addition to standard medical treatments, prosthetic solutions can be incredibly effective in helping patients get back on their feet. A well-crafted prosthetic device can provide increased stability, protection against further injury, and many other benefits.
The devices are designed to be as similar to a natural foot and ankle as possible while providing a controlled and uniform level of mobility. They are designed with advanced technology to measure and match the patient's specific physiology so they can return to normal activities.
When considering a prosthetic solution for a foot or ankle fracture, the patient must be assessed to ensure the suitable device is chosen. The three factors that should be considered are function, quality, and lifestyle. Functionality refers to the device enabling the patient to move around safely and comfortably with reduced pain and potential injury risks. Quality refers to the material quality, lifespans, and any other limitations or specifications of the device. Finally, lifestyle relates to the patient's activities and how the device can be adjusted for the lifestyle.
Regarding the construction of the device, the most modern prosthetic solutions may incorporate 3D printing technology, flexible materials, and advanced shock absorption systems. They come in various sizes and colors to match the patient's foot and ankle. Furthermore, they are designed to be durable and waterproof, with continuous monitoring of the patient's movement while they wear the device.
Regardless of the type of foot or ankle fracture, prosthetic solutions can effectively aid the journey toward recovery. They reduce the risk of additional damage, provide increased mobility, and can improve a person's overall quality of life.
Planning Your Next Visit
For patients of all ages, our clinic in Ottawa provides individualized and compassionate care. We offer the most up-to-date techniques to support your return to an active and healthy lifestyle. Let's create the ideal strategy to help you heal and take action to prevent any further issues!
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