A sprain refers to stretches or tears in ligaments – ankle sprains most commonly occur when the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are injured. A fracture refers to a broken bone, which may occur as a result of trauma or as a result of repetitive motions, in which case it is called a “stress fracture.” Ankle sprains and stress fractures are common, especially among athletes, and can often be treated conservatively if diagnosed early. Kesler Podiatry offers both surgical and non-surgical care options to patients in Hawthorne as well as Wayne, Pompton Lakes, Franklin Lakes, Oakland, NJ, Wyckoff, Fair Lawn, Midland Park, North Haledon, West Caldwell, and Paterson.
Diagnosing Ankle Sprains and Fractures
Based on symptoms alone, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a sprained ankle and an ankle fracture. In both cases you may have difficulty bearing weight, it will be tender to touch, and may be swollen, bruised, or red. If multiple bones in the foot or ankle are broken, you will likely lose stability in the ankle and not be able to walk. It is possible to only break one bone in the foot or ankle and not realize how serious the injury is – but if it does not receive proper treatment, further ligament damage may occur and full recovery may never be achieved.
With both sprains and fractures, there will likely be swelling. If you feel numbness or tingling, it is more likely to be a break than a sprain. There may also be pain concentrated over the ankle or foot bones, and the ankle or foot may be misshapen. You may have also heard a crack as the injury occurred. If you feel pain in the soft parts of the foot and ankle rather than tingling, it is likely to be a sprain. The injury may have occurred silently, or you may have heard a “pop” if the injury was more severe.
Treatment for Sprained Ankles and Feet
The initial treatment for a sprained ankle is the “RICE” method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Keep weight off of the injured foot, keep it above your heart, compress it with a bandage, and use ice to reduce swelling. You may take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to treat the pain. Once the pain and swelling have subsided, simple range-of-motion exercises can help ensure an effective recovery. A sprain can take days or weeks to heal, but if pain persists or worsens you should make an appointment. We may recommend physical therapy, or in very rare cases you may require surgery to repair torn ligaments.
Treatment for Stress Fractures and Traumatic Fractures
Traumatic fractures need immediate treatment – immobilize the foot and ankle, and book an appointment right away. Our podiatrist may take X-rays, and try to re-align the broken bones. The injury will then be immobilized, and you may need crutches or a cast. If the bones do not heal properly, surgery may be necessary. Traumatic fractures usually take several months to heal, and once mobility is safe simple stretching, strengthening, and balance exercises will be prescribed.
Stress fractures are tiny breaks in the bone caused by repetitive activities such as running or jumping. While common and often very painful, they typically heal themselves with a few months of rest. To avoid stress fractures, do not rapidly increase the intensity of your workout – gradually work up to higher intensity and volume to ensure your muscles are conditioned enough to support and cushion the bones. Flat feet can also contribute to stress fractures as can improper exercise shoes or equipment, so be sure to wear high-quality gear and replace it when necessary. Kesler Podiatry offers a full range of treatment services for sprains, fractures and trauma to our friends and neighbors in Hawthorne, Wayne, Pompton Lakes, Franklin Lakes, Oakland, NJ, Wyckoff, Fair Lawn, Midland Park, North Haledon, West Caldwell, and Paterson.